msnbc.com
updated 5/3/2011 6:44:24 AM ET 2011-05-03T10:44:24

Parks officials have been forced to trap and euthanize around 120 raccoons from Chicago's lakefront after the furry scavengers reportedly rampaged through the area.

"There's been some reports that they're living under docks and ransacking boats and being aggressive toward people. So obviously it's a public safety issue," Chicago Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner told the Chicago Sun-Times.

The surge in the animals' numbers has also caused an exodus of birds, rabbits, foxes and coyotes from the area in recent weeks, the newspaper reported on Tuesday.

"It is not unusual to receive a report of a raccoon in a park on occasion, but we don't recall a time when they have been in such abundance," Maxey-Faulkner said.

Raccoons carry roundworm, which can kill humans. Trapped animals have been euthanized, the paper reported.

An official at a local bird sanctuary blamed human behavior, and not raccoons, for the problem.

"This is all the fault of the general public that comes out and tries to feed what they think is a Disney-like creature, which it's not," Charlotte Newfeld, steward of the Bill Jarvis Migratory Bird Sanctuary, told the Sun-Times.

"We've had feeders out there, whom we've had police arrest, and the still continue to give them food."

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