Lahaina residents can breathe easier today after The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) announced that over a dozen raccoons suspected of being rabid have tested negative for the disease. Over the past month, hundreds of calls were placed to officials from concerned citizens about overly aggressive raccoons in Lahaina neighborhoods, and even some stumbling down the middle of Front street. However, tests now confirm that the animals weren’t infected by the deadly virus, but were instead drunk from eating fermented pineapple.
It seems that wherever you go in Lahaina these days you’ll eventually run across an abandoned box of pineapple. With their automated pineapple picking drones, Ananas Farms brought back a booming pineapple industry to Maui and the future of the farm looked great. However, trouble began a few months ago, when the farm announced an exclusive partnership with Alohagistics to distribute Ananas fruit. The move was supposed to provide residents with cheaper pineapple at the peak of ripeness. Unfortunately, critic’s concerns about a service that relies heavily on volunteer crowd-sourced employees, have turned out to be right. Abandoned Alohagistics boxes filled with rotting pineapple have caused issues with flies, terrible smells, and now, drunk raccoons.
Ano Lee, famed inventor and part owner of Ananas Farm, says his company has been maligned unfairly, and the DLNR is responsible for the raccoons in the first place.
“I understand that nobody wants to see or smell a box filled with twenty pounds of rotting pineapple, except the flies and raccoons I guess, but people are acting like it’s a major public health issue or something. I mean it’s just fruit that’s gone bad. Everyone has found an old forgotten banana of orange in their fridge at some point. It’s not a big deal. The real problem here is the raccoons. The DLNR program that brought them here has obviously failed because they’re out getting hammered instead of eating invasive crayfish like they’re supposed to. You can’t blame them really. You bring anything to Maui from someplace else, and it’s going to get hammered on fruit drinks eventually. Why should the raccoons be any different than the tourists?”
DLNR spokesperson Greg Iona, says that officers are doing everything they can to humanely capture the raccoons, but says the organization is hampered by budget concerns. “I think it’s clear that our limited raccoon release program to combat the invasive Red Swamp Crayfish hasn’t worked as well as we had hoped. At the time it seemed like a natural addition to our “Eat The Pests” campaign. Unfortunately, as we all know a few raccoons escaped, and despite our best efforts, there is now a thriving population. We simply don’t have the money or manpower at this point to fully eradicate the animals. However, if the public follows some of our simple guidelines such as not feeding pets outside, and always covering trash, we can go a long way to combating the problem. Obviously, leaving what amounts to be an open bar for them laying around is not something we endorse. Clearly, these companies need to held accountable. Luckily, the raccoons turned out to be angry drunks in this case and not rabid. We continue to urge the public not to try and capture any animal acting strangely. Call us instead.”
Despite Iona’s warning about interacting with the raccoons, many business owners say they have no choice but to trap the pests themselves. Some have been forced to hire pest removal or wildlife relocation services to combat the nightly wave of hungry bandits. While most are still angry about the raccoons, and the recent rabies scare, at least one business owner says he feels more sympathy for the animals now. One of the loudest voices in Lahaina, Bob Abramo, says he understands the plight of the masked mammals.
“Look, I’m no ring tail lover believe me. I don’t really see the point of most animals unless they’re delicious or can fetch to be honest. But now that I know that many of them were just drunk, and looking for a quality meal, things are different. There are dozens upon dozens of eateries in Lahaina, but none of them have had the problems with raccoons that we’ve had at the Chop House. There were many nights that the cooks would have to put on oven mitts, triple-up their aprons like armor, and grab the sturdiest pan they could find before running the trash panda gauntlet on the way to the dumpster. The chittering hordes were too much for a lot of them, and we lost some good dishwashers when the rabies scare started. But everyone can relate to the drunken munchies. All you want is to sink your teeth into your favorite food, and that’s what these things were doing. Not only do we have the most delectable dishes in town, we also have the tastiest garbage. Our alley full of raccoons every night proves it. I feel honored that even something as simple as a raccoon can recognize the Abramo quality that my customers have come to expect. I still hate them of course, and would be dishing out bowls full of raccoon stew if they were even remotely palatable, but I have a little more respect for them now.”