Relief Line: Four Raccoons to Watch in 2016
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Relief Line: Four Raccoons to Watch in 2016

Really all raccoons are ones to watch out for, but especially these ones.

Relief Line is your not-so-serious glance at the city we love.

With the very public death of Conrad the Raccoon and John Tory’s declaration of war on “Raccoon Nation,” 2015 proved a tough year for the unpopular urban mammal. But at the start of a New Year many in the raccoon community have ideas of turning things around for their much maligned kind. Recently Torontoist had the chance to sit down with some of Toronto’s best and brightest garbage-eating menaces to hear what they have planned for 2016.


The Tech Whiz: “What does everyone in the city want?” Fluffy asks before biting into a discarded orange peel filled with coffee grinds. “To be connected to overturned green bins in their neighbourhood.” I am enjoying breakfast with the tech-savvy raccoon in a commercial dumpster behind his favourite brunch spot on Ossington, and he tells me about his exciting new app: Binr. Using pinpoint GPS and “active pest engagement,” Binr could revolutionize how urban wildlife connect with torn open compost bags, overturned garbage cans and loose banana peels in their city. The quadruped has big plans for his app and hopes that by 2017 it will be on everyone raccoon’s phone. But Fluffy laughs when I call him a disruptor. “Hey, I am just an old-fashioned raccoon who wants an easier way to rummage through human refuse, preferably under the cover of darkness.” In 2016, he’s betting that 100,000 raccoons in GTA will feel the same way.

The Next Mayor: “A city with a giant, steaming pile of trash at its heart, is a city that works!” Pesky shouts to a modest crowd of supporters at a rally in the thick brush near Riverdale Park. Though the prospective mayoral candidate is only drawing small crowds of raccoons and some overly concerned members of Animal Control, she already has big ambitions for 2018: Pesky hopes to be Toronto’s first raccoon mayor. After the rally concludes Pesky and I discuss her vision as she gnaws on some mustard encrusted on my shoe. “No wild animal has ever even sniffed an elected position in Toronto. I feel it’s time for a change. I feel I am that change. I feel Trash City is that change.” Never going long without dropping Trash City, her headline-grabbing initiative that would turn the Don Valley into a giant dump while doubling as a Planned Urban Raccoon Community, Pesky is on a mission. And already her bold initiative has received support from some right-wing councillors for reduced garbage collection costs and supporters on the left for championing affordable housing. But Pesky knows she still has a long way to go, “It’s true that polls have shown that voters are somewhat hesitant to vote for an animal that they regularly fight off with hockey sticks. My hope is that if Doug Ford can get 33 percent of the vote then literally anyone–including animals classified as a public nuisance–has a shot.”

The Actor-vist: “Sadly our media only ever portrays raccoons as garbage-eating menaces,” Screechy says with a sigh as we share a drink from a puddle of rainwater in a chichi Yorkville alleyway. “I am hoping to shift that narrative. Mostly through my own work.” And since 2012 Screechy the raccoon has been doing just that. After a scene-stealing turn in a Stratford production of My Fair Lady, where she broke on stage to chew on the curtain, Screechy has attracted her fair share of attention. Still she knows she has a long way to go: “Of course when there is a role like Rocket from Guardians of the Galaxy, a rare, complex, positive portrayal of a raccoon, it still goes to Bradley Cooper,” she says with a laugh. Fortunately for her growing number of fans she is not giving up on her dream. You can currently catch the four-legged thespian in High Park for her gripping one-raccoon show (Open Heart, Closed Compost) and she’s making her big push into the mainstream next spring as one Toronto’s earliest raccoons, accused of murder, on a special three-episode arc of CBC’s hit series, Murdoch Mysteries.

The One That Lives in My Attic and Occasionally Attacks Me: Scratch-Face the raccoon burst onto the scene, seemingly out of nowhere, a few months ago when he dropped from rafters in my attic and began rabidly clawing at my defenceless face. Since that time he has wowed me with his explosive energy, those terrifying rattling noises and a fanatical commitment to defending his little sanctuary. But it’s not just his energy and determination that caught my eye, he’s also shown real initiative in developing strategies for ambushing me and worrying indications that he is learning to build crude but effective weapons. Unfortunately I failed to snag a sit-down interview with the notoriously moody attic-dweller but that only further cultivated his mysterious persona. Either way In 2016 Scratch-Face is definitely a raccoon to watch, because if you don’t he will get the jump on you and you will learn how he got the moniker “Scratch-Face.”

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