The raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in the Netherlands – its present status and a risk assessment
The raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) was introduced from East Asia into the former USSR between 1928 and 1957. Since then it has colonised a large part of Europe and is considered an invasive alien species. An earlier paper (Mulder 2012) reviewed the current knowledge about its ecology. This paper deals with its present status in the Netherlands and provides an assessment of its ecological and human health risks. The colonisation of the Netherlands by the raccoon dog started from north-west Germany about 15 years ago. The pattern of colonisation is blurred by the occurrence of individuals escaping from captivity. Up until 2013 ‘wild’ raccoon dogs were probably recorded exclusively in the north-eastern part of the country. This is in accordance with the distribution in Germany. It seems inevitable that the raccoon dog will colonise the whole territory of the Netherlands in the future, maybe with the exception of the islands in the Wadden Sea. Its general impact on biodiversity is expected to be small. Isolated populations of amphibians, however, may be at risk, as may ground breeding birds in marshes. Raccoon dogs may increase the occurrence of diseases and parasites, of which Trichinella spiralis and the small fox tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis probably constitute the most important health risks for humans. The options for effectively managing raccoon dogs are limited; only local and intensive measures of control or predation prevention may have the desired effect.