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Nassau County Won't Help Merrick Residents Deal With 'Drunken Sailor' Raccoon

MERRICK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- Some raccoons behaving strangely have residents on Long Island concerned for their safety, but when they asked for help from the authorities, they were told they're on their own.

Residents of Lindenmere Street in Merrick shot video of the loopy-looking raccoon on a cell phone. The young raccoon emerged from under a backyard ping-pong table, wobbling toward a Nassau County police officer trying to trap him.

"It was like it was drunk. It was stumbling, it would fall down, it would get up. It was sad," Merrick resident Susan Mandeltort told CBS 2's Carolyn Gusoff.

"He was walking around like a drunken sailor basically," said Donna Laurino.

It is one of several sightings they said have them worried about rabies.

"There are small children in the area and all have little dogs and if we let them out in the back, we're afraid what might happen," Laurino said.

But when residents called police, they were told removing the raccoon would be the homeowners' problem.

The Nassau County Health Department told them "Raccoons are considered wildlife and therefore are protected by the law. Nassau County Department of Health does not become involved with raccoons on private or public property unless there is human contact in the form of a bite or a scratch."

"There's nothing we could do with him and no one wanted to take responsibility," Mandeltort said.

"I was surprised no one was able to help us," Laurino added.

The Health Department said raccoons may emerge in daylight in search of food and can act strangely in excessive heat. They said raccoon rabies was eradicated in Nassau in 2007 and there hasn't been a single case since then.

Raccoon rabies was a big problem in Nassau  around five years ago when there were 67 cases.

Folks on Lindenmere Street said they think at least one case may still exist. The strange-acting raccoon in question was released back into the neighborhood when folks found out government wouldn't step in.

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