SILVER CREEK – A Silver Creek resident has what she calls “a huge raccoon problem.”
Gina Hallmark has trapped six of the animals behind her Babcock Street home in the past two weeks. She said she has called numerous agencies and has reported the problem repeatedly, starting last year.
Last year, she trapped 11 raccoons and had to pay $40 each for their removal from her property.
Chautauqua County Health Department officials agreed to investigate. They saw evidence left behind by the raccoons when they visited her home on Thursday.
“They told me I am doing what I can, but I still think this is a serious problem,” said Hallmark.
Mark Stow of the health department said they took the complaint seriously and will review the issue. He said that raccoons have the highest instance of rabies among wildlife in the area.
Raccoons suffer from rabies more than any other mammal in the United States and account for about 35 percent of all rabies cases, according to the National Humane Society website.
Hallmark has already paid hundreds of dollars for veterinary bills after a raccoon attacked her cat. The pet required surgery to repair a torn eye. She said the animals shredded the cover of her hot tub and a replacement cost $700.
Hallmark said she is concerned about the health risks to her neighborhood. She said she thinks the animals reside in the former Silver Creek High School, which is near her back yard.
The three-story brick building has been vacant since 1979 and has numerous broken windows and fallen bricks.
The structure is a thorn in the side of village Mayor Nick Piccolo, who recently stated at a chamber of commerce meeting, “if something isn’t done with it soon it’s just going to fall down.”
When contacted about the raccoon problem on Babcock Street, Piccolo said he had not been aware of that particular issue.
Hallmark said she hopes other village residents step forward if they are experiencing similar problems with the animals.
“I think it poses a serious health issue,” she said.