FL trapper will spare golden 'coon

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Sunday, December 23, 2001

Raccoon spared trip to frying pan.

By CINDY SWIRKO, Gainesville Sun staff writer.



Oscar Brown Junior trapped this rare albino racoon and now hopes to find her a home. "I hope I can find someone that can appreciate and have her around for a long time," Brown said. Lee Ferinden/The Gainesville Sun

Oscar Brown found a golden gem in his trap Saturday morning, a raccoon whose rareness has spared her from spending Christmas Day in a frying pan.

The raccoon that Brown has named Pinkie has fur coloring commonly called golden among raccoon fans, though golden raccoons are far from common.

Pinkie's body is the color of an orange tabby cat. Her mask is brown. Her nose and feet are pink.

"When I was first walking up, I thought I had trapped a fox or a cat," Brown said. "It freaked me out when I saw it was a raccoon. I said, 'Wow, I've got an unusual coon.' It was like winning a blue ribbon."

Brown is licensed to trap raccoons and he sells them to people who eat them.

Spiced up with curry or other seasonings, raccoon meat tastes like - no, not chicken - goat.

Dewey Weaver of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regional Lake City Office said raccoon color variations are unusual but not unheard of.

Weaver said he has seen golden raccoons, adding that other genetic mutations such as albinism can be found in many mammals. Albino mammals lack pigmentation so they are totally white.

"The variations are a genetic quirk," he said. "I think with some animals it's related to the size of a population in a particular area and inbreeding."

The golden raccoon was a traveling exhibit among Brown's friends Saturday.

He showed her off like a newborn baby. Everyone oohed and aahed, he said.

Brown trapped Pinkie off Rocky Point Road south of Archer Road.

He set the trap out Friday night and found Pinkie the next morning.

Anything smelly - sardines, cat food - is good bait for raccoons. He sells them for $30 to $40.

Weaver said trappers are licensed through a wildlife commission program.

He added that raccoons - the standard black-and-gray variety - are overly abundant and are a nuisance to some people.

Raccoons used to be hunted for their hides, but their meat seems to be the attraction now. A Google search of the Internet showed 3,130 listings for "raccoon recipes."

"Some people think raccoon is a delicacy. It tastes like goat," Brown said. "There are a lot of ways you can cook it. People like to curry it, Jamaican style."

But Brown swears Pinkie isn't going to be someone's meal. He is going to try to sell her to someone or something - such as a zoo - who will let Pinkie live.

"She's too rare to kill," Brown said. "I want to see that she gets a home."

Cindy Swirko can be reached at 374-5024 or cindy.swirko@ gainesvillesun.com.
 

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