The masked invader strikes again: the conquest of Italy by the Northern raccoon
More details
Hide details
University of Turin, Department of Agronomy, Forestry and Food Sciences, Entomology 6 and Zoology, Largo Paolo Braccini, 2 – 10095 Grugliasco (Turin)
Consiglio per la Ricerca e la Sperimentazione in Agricoltura, Centro di Ricerca per 9 l’Agrobiologia e la Pedologia (CRA-ABP), via di Lanciola, 12/a – 50125 Cascine del Riccio, 10 Florence
University of Florence, Department of Biology, Via Romana, 17 – 50125 Florence
University of Insubria, Department of Environment, Health, Safety, Via J.H. Dunant 6 - I-12 1100 Varese
Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, Dept. of Migration and Immuno-Ecology, Am 14 Obstberg 1, 78315 Radolfzell
University of Molise, Department of Biosciences and Territory I-86090 Pesche, Italy, C.da 19 Fonte Lappone – 86090 Pesche (Isernia)
Publication date: 2015-06-22
Hystrix It. J. Mamm. 2015;26(1):47-51
Article (PDF)

The Northern raccoon Procyon lotor is a species native to North and Central America, but alien populations have established in Europe, several Caribbean islands, and Japan, being introduced for fur farming, hunting, or as pets/attraction in animal parks. In the introduced range, raccoons may impact on breeding birds and amphibians, exert crop damages and transmit pathologies to wild species and humans. The species has been introduced also in Italy, where the only known reproductive population is observed since 2004 in Lombardy, along the Adda river. We reconstructed the current distribution range of the Northern raccoon in Italy, collecting information from scientific papers, articles in newspapers and books, as well from experts and local reporters. A total of 53 occurrence points were collected from 38 observation sites. Since 2008, records from Lombardy increased, and sporadic observations were reported from seven other regions. A complete lack of records from the Northernmost provinces of Lombardy (Varese, Como and Sondrio) suggests that the only Italian population does not derive from a range expansion from Switzerland, but it should be considered as an independent, new introduction. Accidental observations of single individuals possibly escaped from captivity are often ignored, and only some of them were removed from the wild. An analysis of the potential distribution of the species was performed in a species distribution modeling framework (Maxent). A global model was built up considering the occurrences of reproductive populations from the native range and introduced areas in Europe and Japan and then projected to Italy. The model suggested a very low suitability of the Alpine region, thus providing support to the hypothesis that the Italian population did not derive from dispersal from Switzerland. If escapes or releases of raccoons will continue, there is a risk that the species could adapt to other areas, making its containment more difficult.

Journals System - logo
Scroll to top