A gang of food-grubbing raccoons has been terrorizing occupants of a West Harlem building by climbing up and down the fire escape and trying to push through window screens, residents say.
“They’re all over,” said a woman who lives at 1350 Amsterdam Ave. at the corner of West 125th Street, where the masked bandits have become exceptionally bold.
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“I came home and one was trying to get in the window, and when I tried to shoo it out, it bared its claws at me,” said the woman, the mother of a teenage boy, who didn’t want her name printed.
The woman said she bought cayenne pepper to sprinkle on her window ledge to ward them off.
“I heard that works — it burns their tongues and they don’t come back,” she said. “I don’t know — I’m still waiting to see.”
The building’s superintendent reported that the critters have been crawling all over since the spring.
“They come around 3 a.m., all over the outside and up the fire escape. If you put on a flashlight, all you see are those eyes staring at you,” said Rodell Lee.
Raccoons live in Central Park and are common in the area, but residents of the building say this season’s pack is exceptionally daring.
“If a window is opened even a crack, they’ll push right in and make themselves at home,” said Lee.
“It is not safe. They have long claws and long teeth and they’re scary.”
Lee and others in the building said their complaints have been directed to the city’s Health Department, which has a policy of removing raccoons only if they exhibit rabid behavior.
The city’s 311 complaint database doesn’t specify when residents call about raccoons.
Records show a number of calls about “pests” at the Amsterdam address last year.
“I call and I call,” said Lee. “I call Animal Control, but they say they can’t do nothing.”
Lee said he was trying to get residents at 1350 Amsterdam to pitch in to make the building less raccoon-friendly.
“The truth is, there was a resident who was leaving food for them. One lady was giving them tamales,” he said.
“They think they’re cute and they’ll leave bowls of water. I tell them they can’t do that.”