Thursday, June 5, 2014

Obama Administration Allows Fur Industry to Continue Calling a Wild Dog a Raccoon

2023 Update 
The marketplace origin theory for COVID 19 received some support in a reanalysis of data from samples taken at the Wuhan market in January and February 2020. This analysis particularly implicated raccoon dogs as a possible source for the virus.  Crrits-Christoph et al. (2023) (a preprint); Cohen (2023) (Science summary); Mallapaty (2023) (a particularly detailed summary with interviews).
2020 Update
Christian Drosten, one of Germany's leading virologists, according to a report in Science, suspects that raccoon dogs in Chinese commercial facilities, might have been intermediate hosts in the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to humans. 
Original 2014 post: 

Scientific papers rarely read like short stories, but a field note by Nino Kirbiš in Natura Sloveniae in 2012 perhaps qualifies:

Raccoon Dog (Wikimedia)
“In the early hours of [June 6] 2012, I was driving from Podova to Brunšvik. When I was approximately 3 km SE of Rače … a raccoon dog crossed the road in front of the car. The animal was about the size of a red fox (Vulpes vulpes), but had a shorter tail. The colour of the fur was mostly grey and brown. The most reliable sign that I was indeed dealing with a raccoon dog was the dark face mask on its head. It was different than the face mask of a badger (Meles meles), since the badger has black stripes placed vertically over the eyes, while the raccoon dog has a dark mask around the eyes. Also, the animal had a dark coloured head and not white, like a badger. The landscape where I spotted the raccoon dog was highly agricultural and thus different from its preferred habitat, which is wet and open: damp meadows and forests, with sparse canopy but abundant undergrowth, marshlands, river valleys and gardens …. The few kilometres distant wetland forest around Rače Fishponds may provide quite suitable habitat for the species. Whether the observed putative raccoon dog was a vagrant, a resident in this area, or if it escaped from captivity still needs to be verified… [T]his observation is fourth confirmed record of the raccoon dog occurring in Slovenia, and since all sightings have been made in different parts of the country, we may expect more encounters in the future.”

Kirbiš is talking about Nyctereutes procyonoides, a type of small Asian canid that is spreading through Europe, something of an Old World version of the coyote’s success in America.  The sighting took place in northeast Slovenia in an area sandwiched between Austia and Croatia and not too distant from Hungary.  The animal has been hunted for its fur in Siberia and parts of Asia for hundreds of years, and has recently found itself at the center of a political dispute concerning rules issued by the Federal Trade Commission.  How that dispute came about is the reason for a blog on a species most Americans have never heard of. 

But first let us take a closer look at the biology of this curious animal. 

Nyctereutes procyonoides

Michael W. Fox (2009) describes the animal as follows:

“The raccoon dog is a native of eastern Siberia, Japan, Manchuria, China and northern Indochina.  This dog has been widely introduced into a number of European countries: European Russia, Poland, Rumania, Sweden, and Finland.  This canid has short ears, shorter legs and tail than foxes, and a large dark spot beneath and behind the eyes on the cheek resembling the mask of the raccoon.”

Raccoon dog is a translation of the Latin, Canis procyonoides, the first Linnaean term for the animal given to it by John Edward Gray in 1834, one of whose sketches appears here.  The animal is called mangut in some parts of Russia and enot (raccoon) in others.  Since its pelt has long been used for fur products, there are also furriers’ terms, such as Ussurian raccoon and Asiatic raccoon, and it is the distinction in terminology between the names commonly used in biology from those used in the fur trade that has led to the nomenclature dispute that the FTC recently resolved in favor of the fur trade. 

Canis procyonoides (Gray, Illustrations of Indian Zoology, 1834)
The raccoon dog is classified biologically as a carnivorous mammal and is a separate genus, one of about 12, of the Family Canidae. Although the dog, Canis familiaris or Canis lupus familiaris, is by far the most common domesticated canid, Dusicyon australis, Cerdocyon thous, and several other fox-like canids in South America were at least partially domesticated by South American Indian groups, as discussed in a prior blog. The African Wild Dog is also a canid separate from the wolf, being instead in the Genus Lycaon. Genome studies suggest that the raccoon dog is most closely related genetically to a group of fox-like canids. (See Zhang and Chen, 2010; Ostrander and Ruvinsky, 2012.) Raccoon dogs are, however, not closely related to raccoons, which are classified in a separate family, the Procyonidae.   

V.G. Heptner and N.P. Naumov describe the animal’s coat in detail:

“The general color tone of the winter fur is dirty, earth-brown or brownish-gray with a more or less considerable overlay of black (color of guard hairs). The tail is considerably darker than the trunk. Along the back extends a darker stripe which broadens on the shoulders, forming there an unclear cross-shaped figure. The abdominal surface is yellowish-brown and the chest is dark brown or blackish.  Ears are black posteriorly.  In the eye region, in front of them and on the cheeks below and behind the eyes and crossing the ‘side-whiskers’, is located a dark (almost black) field.  Together, they form on the muzzle of the mangut a characteristic picture in the form of a mask which contrasts sharply with the brighter color of the muzzle and remaining parts of the head.  This picture in particular, and the general color tone gives the described species a certain similarity to the American raccoon.”

It is this visual similarity to the American raccoon that the fur trade wishes to emphasize, while it is the scientific classification as a canid that those seeking to limit the use of the animal’s pelt think should not be overlooked when it comes to labeling fur products. 

Heptner and Naumov say that, in its original habitat, the raccoon dog lives in “light deciduous and mixed forests near streams with dense understory, or the thick growths of shrubs, usually found on gentle slopes of mountains, interrupted by waterfalls and creeks, with rock outcrops and clear areas…. They avoid coniferous forests and are only encountered there along forest edges, riparian shrubs, or on cliffs along the sea coast. In unforested regions, they are met with only in stands of reeds along the shore of rivers and lakes.” 

The raccoon dog is nocturnal and omnivorous, eating both animal and plant food, particularly insects and small animals.  Heptner and Naumov state:

“During the day, activity of the animals is curtailed and they hide in shelters or spend the time bedded down. During the period of rut, pregnancy and the initiation of nursing the young, from March to May, the raccoon dogs are very cautious and are active almost exclusively in the dark period of the 24 hours. In summer, when the pups begin to feed independently, they frequently are encountered during the daytime. In autumn, in September, regardless of increased feeding, raccoon dogs rarely come out in the daytime and usually leave their shelters only at twilight. In winter, the animals are active at twilight and during the night.” The animal does not migrate, though as winter comes, individuals living near reeds along wetlands may move in groups to dry places. 
Winter Lair (Heptner & Naumov)
The raccoon dog uses burrows, and because it hibernates, has complex winter shelters, which may have more than one entrance.  Winter shelters may be shared with badgers, which go into hibernation a few weeks before raccoon dogs and stay in hibernation longer.  If a raccoon dog hibernates longer than a badger in a burrow, however, the badger may bite the raccoon dog to death.  This is uncommon as the raccoon dog’s hibernation does not involve a deep, uninterrupted sleep, though there is a decrease in metabolism of about 25%. 

Mating occurs in spring.  They are monogamous, though polygamy occurs in captivity if one male is kept with several females.  “Copulation occurs most frequently during the night or early in the morning, usually in quiet weather. Coitus lasts for 6-9 minutes on the average….  Pregnancy lasts from 59 to 70 days, with young born mostly in May.  Litters are usually of six or seven.  Young are born blind and open their eyes on the 9th or 10th day.  Lactation lasts from 45 to 60 days.  Sexual maturity is attained in 8 to 10 months.  In nature, animals live at around 6 to 7 years, but may live 11 years in captivity.”

The major natural enemy is the wolf, but also stray dogs, and of course human hunters.  Puppies may be vulnerable to birds of prey, including owls and eagles.  

“When in danger, [the raccoon dog] conceals itself, closely presses itself to the ground and, owing to its brown color, merges with the surrounding soil background or forest bedding. In case of direct close approach of a human, it usually closes its eyes and lies completely still, even when touched. During twilight and night, it is more courageous and sometimes tries to defend itself. It swims well, willingly enters water and can swim across wide rivers and lakes.”

Geographic Distribution of Raccoon Dog (Heptner & Naumov)
A good deal of recent research has concerned the spread of the raccoon dog into Europe, where it has been quite successful.  As stated by Jaap Mulder (2012):  “Since the Russians started to introduce the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides Gray, 1834) in the former USSR, from 1928 onwards, the species has successfully colonized large portions of north and central Europe.”  (Also see papers by Ansorge, Drygala, Hong, Kauhala, Korablev, Mulder, Oerlemans, Pitra, Puraite in bibliography.)  Studies in France in 2005 and 2014 found considerable spread in a single decade (Leger and Ruette, 2005 and 2014). 

Thus, arguments concerning the use of the animal for fur should not be seen as implicating the survival of the species.  A map produced by Oscar Ward and Doris Wurster-Hill for The American Society of Mammologists in 1990 shows considerable expansion in Europe over what the map above by Heptner and Naumov would indicate. 

Hunting Raccoon Dogs

Heptner and Naumov report that raccoon dogs are hunted when the snow is deep, at night, using dogs often with bells on their collars so that the hunters can follow them in the dark.  “The dog quickly follows the trail and overtakes the animal, and if it does not flee into a burrow, the dog strangles it or worries it until the hunter arrives. Traps for the raccoon dogs are put at burrows, along the shores of water bodies, and around marshes and ponds.” 

Rafal Kowalczyk (2007) notes that now, in much of Europe, the raccoon dog is not hunted for its fur but rather to eradicate it as a pest: 

“In Norway, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania raccoon dogs may be hunted all year round, with no protection during breeding season. In Denmark hunting is not allowed unless harm is done to game animals…. In Finland and Poland raccoon dogs are protected during breeding season (in Finland, only females with puppies are protected in May-July). In Finland, the annual hunting bag varied between 75,000-130,000 in 1998-2003…, 20,000 in Germany…, 6,000-10,000 in Poland …, 4,000-5,000 in Estonia, 3,500-4,000 in Lithuania …, and 2,000 in Latvia. In other countries raccoon dogs are hunted occasionally.”

Skinning Raccoon Dogs

At the beginning of the 20th century, upwards of 300,000 pelts were sold every year.  The number is far greater now.  In addition to the figures in the preceding paragraph, 150,000 annually come from China, 140,000 from Japan, and 30,000 from Korea. Many raccoon dogs are raised in cages, particularly in China. A report to which three groups contributed—Swiss Animal Protection, Care for the Wild International, and East International— provides the following information about slaughter practices of foxes, mink, and raccoon dogs in China (attachment to Humane Society submission):
Caged Raccoon Dogs (courtesy Swiss Animal Protection)

“Slaughter practices used on animals farmed for fur in China involved extremely rough handling and stunning or attempts to stun the animals with repeated blows to the head or by being flung head first against the ground. Following this treatment animals were often left next to, or piled on top of each other. Some animals may have been dead, others stunned. Clearly injured, many were convulsing, trembling or trying to crawl away. Workers made no attempts to ensure that animals were dead before skinning. In other cases animals regained consciousness as their skin was being removed. Workers then used the handle of their knife to beat the animals’ head repeatedly until they became motionless once again. Others simply stepped on the animals’ head or neck to strangle it or hold it down. Desperate and writhing in agony, animals conscious during these proceedures hopelessly tried to defend themselves even to the point where all their skin had been forced off. Even so, breathing, heartbeat, directional body and eyelid movements were evident for 5 to 10 minutes.”

Fur Products Name Guide

Under the Fur Products Labeling Act (PL 106-476, November 9, 2000), commonly just called the “Fur Act,” and regulations issued under the Act, products made partly or entirely of fur must have labels stating:
  • The animal’s name as provided in the Fur Products Name Guide.
  • Whether the fur was bleached, dyed, or otherwise artificially colored.
  • If the product includes paws, tails, bellies, sides, flanks, or waste fur, this must be stated.
  • The name or Registered Identification Number of the manufacturer.
  • The product’s country of origin.
The animal from which the fur was taken is to be identified under its “true English name,” or if there is none, “the name by which such animal can be properly identified in the United States.” For instance, Mustela vison is “mink.”  The FTC’s Fur Products Name Guide (16 CFR 301.0) provides that Nyctereutes procyonoides is to be labeled “the Asiatic Raccoon.”
Clubbed Raccoon Dog (courtesy Swiss Animal Protection)

In 2010, Congress passed the Truth in Fur Labeling Act (PL 111-313, December 18, 2010), which eliminated an exemption for furs worth below $150 but also required the FTC to initiate a review of the Name Guide.  That led to the request for comments in March 2011. 

Comments on Raccoon Dog vs. Asiatic Raccoon

Among comments submitted were suggestions that the label for the species be changed from the Asiatic Raccoon to the Raccoon Dog.  The Humane Society of the United States recommended this change for three basic reasons: Raccoon Dog is the “scientifically accepted common name” of the species; it is also the “most widely-accepted common name;” and Asiatic Raccoon is confusing and misleading.  It is misleading because the animal is found outside of Asia and, being a member of the Family Canidae, is closely related to other canids but not to raccoons of the Family Procyonidae.  Congressman Jim Moran, who introduced the Truth in Fur Labeling Act in the House of Representatives, also argued for the term Raccoon Dog. 

Industry fought back, arguing that Raccoon Dog would “mislead consumers and harm retail sales.”   The harm to retail sales would, of course, come from the fact that people do not want to be told that they are about to buy dog fur.  The National Retail Foundation said that “how a product is marketed ought to be a critical factor in deciding” an animal’s name.  In other words, marketing obfuscation should be honored because it allows the public to remain ignorant. 

Industry got support from an official of the Fish & Wildlife Service:

“Ms. Lynn [Sharon Lynn, Senior Wildlife Inspector of the Fish and Wildlife Service] of FWS noted that the word ‘‘Asiatic’’ is helpful, despite the existence of European nyctereutes procyonoides, because it ‘gives you an idea where the animal originated naturally.’ Ms. Lynn further explained that Asia is the species’‘native habitat’ and, therefore, ‘the Asiatic name would be a neutral’ description.  Ms. Lynn observed that using ‘Asiatic Raccoon’ to refer to European nyctereutes procyonoides is like the common practice of using ‘African Lion' to refer to lions raised in America.” 
Waiting to Die (courtesy Swiss Animal Protection)

This fails to note that a term like lion is correctly applied to a certain taxonomic classification, but is consistent with the sort of fuzzy logic that Fish & Wildlife has been using to open up gray wolf populations to hunting in the United States.  Dr. Alfred Gardner of the United States Geological Survey gave at least tangential support for the use of Asiatic Raccoon by observing that the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), which gives the common name of Nyctereutes procyonoides as Raccoon Dog, is not necessarily authoritative as a source for common names of species.  Unfortunately, this reference was enough to justify the FTC in claiming that it had support for the use of Asiatic Raccoon from at least two scientifically oriented—or at least (one hopes) scientifically conscious—federal agencies. 

The Fur Information Council of America argued that the “Asiatic/Finnraccoon” is very different from a dog because it “hibernates, climbs trees, … cannot bark, and it does not wag its tail.”  Also, it has “rings around its eyes, [so] it clearly looks like a raccoon.”  This is true, but irrelevant to the taxonomic status of the animal. Differences could be found with the African Wild Dog as well, and if it's fur were valuable it would probably be called the Eastern Savannah Leopard, or some such idiocy.   

FTC Stays with “Asiatic Raccoon”

In 2012, the FTC acknowledged that there were different points of view but stated that it wanted to retain Asiatic Raccoon “as the only name for that species,” yet the issue remained at least theoretically open. Then, on May 28, 2014, the agency reaffirmed this position and finalized its rules on the subject.  Bewilderingly, the FTC insists that “‘Asiatic Raccoon’ is not a trade name.  Rather, it is the true English name prescribed in the Name Guide for over 50 years.”  Thus, the FTC’s longstanding acceptance of an industry term is made into a proof that Asiatic Raccoon is “the true English name.”  The submissions of the Humane Society of the United States and the New York City Bar adequately refute this logic, for anyone who cares, which the FTC does not. 


At least three agencies in the Obama administration have defied taxonomic and genetic science, as well as the dominant lay term for a species, in order to protect the fur industry.  Perhaps this is justified by the fact that Americans don’t know what raccoon dogs are—they are not New World canids in any case—but the only real problem for the fur industry is the word “dog.”  After all, the industry sells wolf pelt products, while there are many scientists who would label the domestic dog as no more than a subspecies of the wolf, Canis lupus familiaris. 

To his credit, Obama has made a point of accepting scientific results on climate change, a difficult issue for any American politician.  Yet when it comes to wolves and raccoon dogs, the President’s people have hardly been scientific or, in the case of raccoon dogs, even logical.  It is probably too late to scream—I admit that I did not focus on this issue until commenting officially was no longer possible—so this blog may be no more than yelling at the umpire after the call.  Still, if enough people yell at the umpire, the next call may be made a little more carefully, which is all that I have come to hope for from the current administration with regard to wildlife. 

The history of the law discloses, in the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, “every painful step and every world-shaking contest by which mankind has worked and fought its way from savage isolation to organic social life.”  I hope—many hope—that a part of our organic social life will involve recognizing rights for animals.  I do not know what course this may take.  I do not at present think that the law will require all citizens of any country to become vegans or that horse racing will soon be banned.  Yet I do think that there are some horrors perpetrated upon animals that make us less than human, and skinning them alive is surely one of them.  Unfortunately, the new FTC rules are a step backward in the struggle towards any organic social life that accepts that those animals with which we share the planet have any rights at all.  

Thanks to Fran Breitkopf, Richard Hawkins, and L.E. Papet for comments and suggestions.Thanks to Mark Rissi of Swiss Animal Protection SAP for granting permission to use the photos of raccoon dogs caged, about to be skinned, and after skinning. In addition to the Humane Society of the United States, organizations posting information on these issues include the Anti-Fur Society, the FurFree Alliance, and the International Anti-Fur Coalition

Raccoon Dog Coat (courtesy Swiss Animal Protection)

Ansorge, Hermann, Ranyuk, Maryana, Kauhala, Kaarina, Kowalczyk, Rafal, and Stier Norman (2009). Raccoon Dog, Nyctereutes procyonoides, Populations in the Area of Origin and in Colonised Regions—the Epigenetic Variability of an Immigrant.  Annales Zoologici Fennici, 46, 51-62  (“The native raccoon dogs of the Amursk region were completely separate from the European populations as a consequence of the distinct reproductive isolation of about 60 years, as well as an effect of the colonisation and migration history of the species.”).

Drygala, Frank (2009).  Space Use Pattern, Dispersal and Social Organisation of the Raccoon Dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides GRAY, 1834) an Invasive, Alien Canid in Central Europe.  Thesis, Technische Universitat Dresden.  

Drygala, Fran, Korablev, Nicolay, Ansorge, Hermann, Fickel, Joerns, Isomursu, Marja, Elmeros, Morten, Kowalczyk, Rafal, Baltrunaite, Laima, Balciauskas, Linas, Saarma, Urmas, Schultze, Christoph, Borkenhagen, Peter, and Frantz, Alain C. (2016).  Homogenous Population Genetic Structure of the Non-Native Raccoon Dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in Europe as a Result of Rapid Population Expansion.  PLoS/OneDOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0153098 (April 11, 2016) (noting: "This invasive species is of management concern because it is highly susceptible to fox rabies and an important secondary host of the virus.We hypothesized that the large number of introduced animals and the species’ dispersal capabilities led to high population connectivity and maintenance of genetic diversity throughout the invaded range.").

Drygala, Frank, Zoller, Hinrich, Stier, Norman, and Roth, Mechthild (2010).  Dispersal of the Raccoon Dog Nyctereutes procyonoids into a Newly Invaded Area in Central Europe. Wildlife Biology, 16, 150-161 (This was a study of dispersal patterns of the animal in northeastern Germany.  The researchers state: “Radio-collared, dispersing animals showed a variety of movement patterns and the impression of flexible migration behaviour was confirmed. The fact that males and females showed equal dispersing behaviour is supposed to be one of the factors contributing to the high expansion and the success of the species.”). 

Drygala, Frank, and Zoller, Hinrich (2011).  Spatial Use and Interaction of the Raccoon Dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) and the Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Central Europe—Competition or Coexistence?  8th European Vertebrate Pest Conference, DOI: 10.5073/jka.2011.432.011 (finding “no evidence of strong interference competiton between the two canids.”). 

Federal Trade Commission, Fur Products Labeling Act, Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; Request for Comment, 76 Fed. Reg. 13550 (March 14, 2011).  Comments were received from:
  • Humane Society of the United States; a secondary filing includes damning attachments including the report on Chinese fur industry practices was also filed.
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland (“Finland is the world’s largest Finnraccoon fur producer with approximately 160,000 skins produced per year… we would encourage the FTC to revision its decision not to accept, as an alternative to Asiatic Raccoon, the term Finnraccoon for products of the Nyctereutes procyonoidos species.”).
  • Finland Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (to the same effect as the country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs).
  • BCI International Group, Inc. ("The Asiatic Raccoon product … has suffered a setback in the marketplace in recent years, as a result of the attempt to link the product in the media with the term 'raccoon dog.'").
  • Saga Furs Oyj (Favoring the Finnraccoon designation, noting that “the name ‘raccoon dog’ had resulted in a number of major department stores terminating their use of the animal because consumers confused the nyctereutes procyonoids with domestic dog.”).
  • Fur Information Council of America (“The common name, ‘Asiatic Raccoon,’ has been used on labels for fifty years.”).
  • New York City Bar, Committee on Animal Law (urging the FTC to (1) change the name of Nyctereutes procyonoides from “Asiatic raccoon” to “raccoon dog” in the Fur Products Name Guide (the “Name Guide”) and (2) reject the proposals to allow the use of the terms “finnraccoon,” “tanuki,” or “magnut” in the Name Guide to describe Nyctereutes procyonoides.”).
  • Congressman James P. Moran, 8th District of Virginia (“The FTC has proposed to continue the use of the term ‘Asiatic Raccoon’ for fur from Nyctereutes procyonoides, a species known by other federal agencies, and the scientific community, by its common English name, ‘raccoon dog.’ This species from the Canidae family is unrelated to the raccoon and appears in Europe as well as Asia, making the term ‘Asiatic Raccoon’ highly misleading. This is exactly the type of mislabeling that the statute was intended to address, in order to protect consumers who may wish to avoid buying fur from a particular species of animal.”).
  • National Retail Foundation (“[W]e believe the FTC’s propose rules under the Fur Products Labeling Act for this animal are proper and correct.”).
Federal Trade Commission, Regulations Under the Fur Products Labeling Act, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Request for Comment, 77 Fed. Reg. 57043 (September 17, 2012).  See also 78 Fed. Reg. 36693 (June 19, 2013), regarding additional proposals on rules regarding guaranties from third parties attesting that transferred products are not mislabeled or falsely advertised or invoiced. 

Federal Trade Commission, Regulations Under the Fur Products Labeling Act, Final Rule, 79 Fed. Reg. 30445 (May 28, 2014).

Fox, Michael W. (2009). The Wild Canids: Their Systematics, Behavioral Ecology and Evolution.  Wenatchee, Washington: Dogwise Publishing. 

Gray, John Edward (1834). Illustrations of Indian Zoology, II. London: Adolphus Richter & Co.   The version of this book on Internet Archive is protected in some manner that precludes printing or downloading, but various sites include the picture here.  

Heptner, V.G., and Naumov, N.P. (1967). Mammals of the Soviet Union, II, Part 1a.  Moscow: Vysshaya Shkola Publishers. 

Hong, YoonJee, Kim, Kyung-Seok, Lee, Hang, and Min, Mi-Sook (2013). Population Genetic Study of the Raccoon Dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in South Korea Using Newly Developed 12 Microsatellite Markers.  Genes and Genetic Systems, 88(1), 69-76 (describing the raccoon dog as becoming a top predator in Korea despite its modest size).

Hsieh-Yi, Yi-Chiao, Yu Fu, Mark Rissi, and Barbara Maas (2005).  Fun Fur? A Report on the Chinese Fur Trade.  Report published by Swiss Animal Protection SAP, Care for the Wild International, and East International.  See also the documentary correlated in part with this report: Dying for Fur: Inside the Chinese Fur Trade (2005). 

Kauhala, Kaarina, and Kowalczyk, Rafal (2011).  Invasion of the Raccoon Dog Nyctereutes procyonoides in Europe: History of Colonization, Features Behind Its Success, and Threats to Native Fauna.  Current Zoology, 57(5), 584-598 (“In northern Europe potential competitors include the red fox Vulpes vulpes and the badger Meles meles, but studies of their diets or habitat preferences do not indicate severe competition. The raccoon dog is an important vector of diseases and parasites, such as rabies, Echinococcus multilocularis and Trichinella spp. and this is no doubt the most severe consequence arising from the spread of this alien species in Europe.”). 

Korableve, N.P.,, Korablev, M.P., Rozhnov, V.V., and Korablev, P.N. (2011)  Russian Journal of Genetics, 47(10), 1378-1385 (“Phyologenetic patterns of the introduced population were associated with probable heterogeneity of autochthonous donor populations with respect to relatively large group of founders and a dramatic increase in the species number after the introduction.” .

Leger, Francois, and Ruette, Sandrine (2005). Le Chien Viverrin [Nyctereutes procyonoides] en France.  Faune Sauvage No. 269.  These same authors detailed further incursions in 2014.  Raton Laveur et Chien Viverrin: Le Point sur leur Repartition en France.  Faune Sauvage No. 302.   

Libois, Roland M. (1996). The Current Situation of Wild Mammals in Belgium: An Outline. Hystrix, 8(1-2), 35-41.

Mulder, Jaap L. (2010). A Review of the Ecology of the Raccoon Dog (Nytereutes procyonoides) in Europe. Lutra, 55(2), 101-127.

Oerlemans, Marcella, and Koene, Paul (2008). Possible Implications of the Presence of the Raccoon Dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in the Netherlands.  Lutra, 51(2), 123-131 (“The raccoon dog is an opportunistic feeder, what makes this species rather insensitive to fluctuations in single food resources and reduces dietary overlap with fox and badger. As a vector of rabies and the fox tapeworm, the presence of raccoon dogs in the Netherlands might have consequences for wild and domestic animals, as well as for people. Additionally, Trichinella can be carried by raccoon dogs and this disease thus might reach the Netherlands. Mortality, starvation, hunting, disease and traffic accidents often include animal suffering and are thus animal welfare issues.”).

Ostrander, Elaine A., and Ruvinsky, Anatoly (2012).  Genetics of the Dog.  Oxfordshire, UK: CABI  (at 249, placing the raccoon dog within the fox-like canids).

Pitra, Christian, Schwarz, Sabine, and Fickel, Joerns (2010).  Going West—Invasion Genetics of the Alien Raccoon Dog Nyctereutes procyonoides in Europe.  European Journal of Wildlife Research, 56, 117-129.

Puraite, I., Griciuviene, L., Paulauskas, A., et al. (2011). Genetic Variability of Raccoon Dogs and Their Impacts on the Environment in Lithuania.  8th European Vertebrate Pest Management Conference. DOI: 10.5073/jka.2011.432.022 (“The genetic data suggest that raccoon dogs colonised Lithuania from different neighbouring countries Belarus and Latvia. The raccoon dog impact on native species and communities (C0-C2) were moderately negative for amphibians, mollusks, rodents, birds, insects, and reptiles and for transmission of pathogens.”).

Rafal (2007). NOBANIS—Invasive Alien Species Fact Sheet: Nyctereutes procyonoides. Posting of the NOBANIS European Network on Invasive Alien Species. 

Ward, Oscar G., and Wurster-Hill, Doris H. (1990).  Nyctereutes procyonoides. Mammalian Species, No. 358, 1-5.

Zhang, Honghai, and Chen, Lei (2010).  The Complete Mitochondrial Genome of the Raccoon Dog.  Mitogenome Announcements, 21(3-4), 59-61 (“The phylogenetic analysis based on the concatenated data set of 14 genes in the mitochondrial genome of Canidae shows that the raccoon dog has close phylogenetic position with the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and they constitute a clade which has an equal evolutionary position with the clade formed by the genera Canis and Cuon.”).


  1. Are there any organized efforts underway in which the general public can join to bring about changes regarding this cruelty in the United States?

    1. Good question. I checked a number of the wolf preservation websites to see if they even mentioned this and I did not find any that did, though admittedly I only did a minimal search. Because there is projection of species endangerment, I suspect most feel that it is less crucial than efforts about wolf populations in danger of becoming extinct. If I find any concerted effort by a group, I'll add to the post.

  2. Thank you for your reply. My own research leads me to believe that the International Anti-Fur Coalition is having the most effect in bringing about changes in the vanity of wearing animal skins. While they don't single out the raccoon dog, their actions will hopefully go far in helping to change public awareness, which may be the only way to get elected officials to change policy. I've started a letter writing campaign which I plan to take all the way to the top, and hope that so much noise is made by like-minded people that the next presidential election will make animal welfare, and particularly the cruelty of the fur industry, a make-or-break item by then. I'm a democrat and am disappointed by the Obama administrations failure towards these animals, and hope that I don't have to vote republican, but won't hesitate to if such a candidate will make sweeping changes. Keep up the fine work, and don't forget: Impossible just takes longer.