Ever since I first saw one stuffed and mounted in a small village bar in the Pieniny National Park in Slovakia, I have had an interest in the Raccoon Dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) – at first I didn’t even believe such a creature existed in Europe. Having been thus far unable to locate them alone, I have spoken to hunters in my village to ascertain their whereabouts. Their response is usually to show me ones they’ve shot, kept as photos on their mobile phones.
I’ve explored several areas of forest in my area, I’ve read up on their habits and usual haunts, and still have had no luck in seeing them in the flesh. I know roughly where to find them, in an area of woodland heavy with boar and wolf, and hunters with itchy trigger fingers.
Three nights ago, on Slovak TV news, it was announced that due to their apparently huge population, all hunting restrictions would be lifted on them. Where this statistic comes from, I’ve no idea. As deer season has ended, and boars are restricted to specific categories, hunters will be out in droves looking for a kill. The Raccoon Dog, an ancient canid from Japan, released by the former Soviet Union for its fur, will become Target No.1.
This news disturbed me so much that I woke up angrily thinking about it. I am now more determined than ever to see them before they get wiped out. I’m even considering starting a sanctuary for them.