Summerfield, in Lakewood Ranch, is under siege.
Raccoons, among a burgeoning population of wildlife that infests much of the neighborhood, are so audacious on the street that they’re trying to get in people’s windows.
At least that’s the way it seems to worried residents.
“They’re looking in the window, trying to pull the screens out,” said Robert Ryland, a retired homeowner near Summerfield Park.
Down the street, Helen Davis said that she was astounded to see one of the creatures staring through her bedroom window.
Whether it’s raccoons in Lakewood Ranch, a sick opossum trying to drag itself to safety across Hwy 70 near Greenbrook, or bats so numerous they make up what Jeff Norris called “bat belts” in the Southeast, wildlife complaints in the area have increased tenfold in the past 25 years, the pest-control expert estimated.
“They’re overpopulated,” Norris said.
The raccoons are not really trying to break in, despite their bandit-like faces, said Norris. They’re climbing drain pipes and running across roofs looking for openings from rotted fascia boards or other holes in people’s walls where they can squeeze in and make nests, especially as the weather grows colder, Norris said.
Once the raccoon, squirrel or other critter gets in, it’s up to the homeowner to evict it, said a county Health Department spokesman. And that can be costly. Like other big Counties, Manatee County government doesn’t provide removal services to get rid of the varmints.
And the Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals will come out only to retrieve sick or injured animals. That leaves homeowners to hire state-licensed pest-control companies – at a cost of $200 or more just to set up cages and $95 to remove each animal, Norris said. Another wildlife pest-control operator.