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Rescuer of bar-going raccoon arrested for unlawful possession of furbearer | Animals

A woman has been charged with three crimes after she took a raccoon named Rocky to a bar in North Dakota.

Erin Christensen faces up to two years in prison and a $7,500 fine after taking the raccoon to Maddock Bar for happy hour on Sept. 6.

A bartender said no one was bitten by Rocky during the visit, but the outing nonetheless caused a health scare, with the North Dakota health and human services department warning of potential rabies exposure.

Christensen, 38, was arrested last week after authorities found her and the raccoon through several search warrants in and around Maddock, in the northern part of the state.

She told the Bismarck Tribune that police “brought a battering ram to break into the front door of the house” after they finally found her and Rocky.

Christensen described it as “a shock-and-awe campaign”.

She has been charged with providing false information to law enforcement officers, tampering with physical evidence and unlawfully possessing furbearers.

Christensen said her family found Rocky by the side of a road about three months ago. She said they were grooming the raccoon again and planned to release it back into the wild.

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Instead, Rocky was euthanized after his capture. He tested negative for rabies.

In towns and villages, raccoons, which have remarkably agile front legs, are known as scavengers that often forage through garbage cans for food.

However, in the wild, raccoons like to eat fruits, seeds, nuts, bird eggs and plants.

According to National Geographic Kids, raccoons “are also excellent swimmers, preying on fish, frogs and crayfish.”

It is legal to have a raccoon as a pet in some states of the US, including Florida, although the raccoons are often not caught from the wild.

Raccoon possession is illegal in North Dakota, but Christensen described Rocky’s plight as “unfair”.

“Too much has been done to detain an innocent raccoon,” she told the Tribune.

“They were not concerned about our health whether we had rabies or not. They were concerned about finding and killing Rocky and putting me behind bars.”

Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States, kept a raccoon named Rebecca as a pet during his stay in the White House.

Rebecca was presented to Coolidge in 1926 by a Mississippi supporter who suggested the president eat the raccoon. Instead, the family “fell in love with her,” according to the White House Historical Association website.

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One of Rebecca’s favorite pastimes was “playing in a partially filled bathtub with a bar of soap,” Grace Coolidge, the first lady, would later reminisce.

When the Coolidges left the White House in 1929, they sent Rebecca to the Rock Creek Zoo, according to the White House Historical Association, because they wanted her to live with other raccoons.

Raccoons live about one to three years in the wild, National Geographic Kids said, but in captivity, some raccoons have lived up to 20 years.

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