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Businessman fined $2,000 for keeping raccoons

By Michelle Sutherland
Staff Reporter
Five-weeks-old racoons, which were used for tourism attraction on Caye Caulker confiscated from businessman.
A businessman from Caye Caulker was stuck with a monetary fine at the San Pedro Magistrate Court on Tuesday, after he was found in possession of three baby raccoons, which he claimed were being used for wildlife tourism on the island.

Businessman Jacob Emmanuel Cabral was fined $2,000 for ‘unlawful possession of forest produce’ by magistrate Jannelle Villanueva, who ordered him to make his payments before March 30th, 2018 or face up to six months imprisonment.

The charges were brought against Cabral by the Forest Department, which reported that on August 15th, police officers visited his business place where they found three, five-week-old raccoons which he claimed were used for tourism attraction.

The baby raccoons were confiscated and taken to the Belize Wildlife Referral Clinic and later transferred to Wildtracks, where they have since undergone a successful rehabilitation process and released on supplementary nutrients with a tracker attached to them until they can be fully released into the wild.

Forest Department Officer, Minerva Gonzalez, said that while raccoons appear to be adorable, they are wild animals and should not be treated or kept as pets. She further added that even “tamed” raccoons are extremely high maintenance, unpredictable, destructive and are known to be notorious biters, and most importantly they are known to be carriers of zoonotic parasites, rabies and other infectious diseases.

Gonzalez further explained that racoon’s natural instinct is to bite when they are angry, frustrated, or stressed. Consequently, for the safety of humans, residents are asked to report any possession or illegal captivity of wild animals to the Forest Department.

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