Sick raccoon beaten with shovel by officer, man says

A man living near Winnipeg says he's furious after a Manitoba Conservation officer used a shovel to kill a raccoon that appeared to be ill with canine distemper.

Don Capri of the Birds Hill area said he called the provincial department after he saw the sick raccoon on Saturday near the post office boxes at Gateway Road and Elliot Road.

The conservation officer who responded to his call got out of the truck with a plastic bag and a shovel, which he said was used to smash the raccoon's head.

Capri said the raccoon was killed in front of him and his neighbours.

"This is wrong. You know, if this thing was vicious, it was attacking people, fine, do what you have to [do]. But it was hardly moving," he said Wednesday.

Capri said the incident is an example of Manitoba Conservation mishandling a situation involving a wild animal.

"I said, 'You shouldn't have hit him like that.' You could have tranquilized him, taken him away where nobody could've seen him and then put him down," he said.

"But to hit him with a shovel? I think that was ignorant."

Distemper among raccoons has been spreading in Manitoba: provincial officials say there have been 33 suspected infections in Winnipeg and 10 in the Selkirk region, which includes Birds Hill, since Sept. 1.

At least 78 infected raccoons were euthanized in the Winnipeg and Headingley areas between early July and late August, according to Manitoba Conservation.

A department spokesperson told CBC News on Thursday that officials are looking into the incident, but it appears the raccoon did not suffer in this case.

The spokesperson added that there is no single way to euthanize an animal, but it has to be done if a raccoon is infected with distemper.

Since distemper is contagious, the province is warning people to vaccinate their pets and report any animals that look sick.

Infected raccoons tend to look very disoriented or lethargic, show crusted eyes and excess mucus coming from their noses, and have laboured or shallow breathing.

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