Mayor, wife attacked by raccoon

Published 10:55 am Tuesday, June 4, 2019

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A raccoon attacked Mayor Jim Staff and his wife June 2 at a public boat ramp in Gulf Shores, according to a statement released Tuesday.

A Facebook video showing Staff with the raccoon surfaced after the incident.

Staff said in the statement Tuesday morning that he and his wife were at a boat launch in Gulf Shores.

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“On Sun., June 2, 2019, my wife, Myrtle, and I were trying to launch our boat at the public boat ramp under the Highway 59 bridge at Gulf Shores,” he said. “I was going to back the boat into the water and my wife was out of the truck to hold the rope for the boat. Although I didn’t see it, I heard my wife yell and jump back in the truck and say, ‘look out for the raccoon.’ A raccoon had run at my wife while she was out of the truck.”

Staff said he then saw the animal and threw a stick at it to make it go away.

“Instead of going away, it ran next to a garbage can several feet away and stared at me,” he said.

Staff said in the statement he then became concerned as the raccoon wasn’t behaving naturally.

“I took a shovel out of the truck because I didn’t know what the raccoon was going to do,” he said. “At that point, the raccoon then ran at me. That is when I hit the raccoon with the shovel.”

Staff said then he was convinced that the animal was dying and would not recover.

“In fact, one lady, not the one who posted the Facebook video, asked me to put it out of its misery, which I did with the shovel,” he said. “It was only at this point that the video was taken, and it provides a misleading picture of what actually happened.

“The video does not show the bizarre behavior of the raccoon, which led me to protect both my wife and myself,” he said.

According to, a raccoon attacked a Fairhope woman in October 2018.

Staff said he’s an animal lover and he would never intentionally injure an animal.

“However, when wild raccoon, which is normally a nocturnal animal, exhibits this unnatural behavior and runs at my wife and then at me, I have every right to be fearful of what may happen,” he said. “I am well aware of recent events in Baldwin County, where a rabid fox and rabid raccoon charge at and bit two women in Fairhope,” he said.

Staff noted that several years ago, a family took in two baby raccoons in Walker County and exposed 14 people, including family members, to rabies.

Rabies is a deadly viral disease that infects the brain and spinal cord of mammals, according to the Alabama Department of Public Health. The virus is spread from exposure to saliva or nervous tissue from an infected animal, usually through a bite. Scratches or saliva contact with a mucous membrane are also considered as exposure risks. Rabies is preventable if proper treatment is given before symptoms occur, but is fatal once symptoms are present.

Staff said based on suggested comments on the Facebook video, the raccoon must have been a pet, which is why it exhibited unnatural behavior.

“I don’t know whether this is the case or not,” he said. “If it was a domesticated pet, then this is irresponsible behavior.”
According to the National Wildlife Federation, there are dangers in trying to domesticate raccoons.

“The bottom line is that I had every right to fear and act accordingly when a wild animal ran first at my wife and then at me,” Staff said. “The video and the comments posted on Facebook are both misleading and irresponsible because they don’t give the entire picture of what happened.”