According to a study conducted by Duke University, the average American throws away close to four and a half pounds of garbage everyday, but what happens when one man’s trash becomes another mammal’s nightmare?

Last week, a juvenile raccoon was taken to Blue Ridge Wildlife Center for severe injuries to its tail. 

“About two inches of tail was left in tact and the rest — the skin had been degloved and there was severe infection and muscle damage. So, it is not a good situation. There had been a really clean cut on the skin, which is why I expected a wire or constriction injury,” said Dr. Jennifer Riley, director of vet services, Blue Ridge Wildlife Center. 

Staff believe that the raccoon was injured by rifling through unsecured trash.
“Some people don’t clean out the cans the bottles they use, so things smell like sugary soda and they smell like dog foods. Animals want to get into that stuff and unfortunately, with the way that can openers work, you know, things like that, there are a lot of sharp edges involved and animals don’t know they’re sharp edges. They want to go in and eat something,” Riley said. 
Officials said they constantly treat wildlife for injuries caused by ingesting, getting tangled on or impaled by loose items. 
“Be aware where your trash is, make sure it’s secure, make sure cans are cleaned out — especially if it’s recyclables that are left out. Really rinse those cans out well because we don’t want that food residue attracting animals,” Riley said. 
Fortunately for the raccoon, its nearly fatal dumpster dive won’t have too much of an impact on its life. 
“He’s doing really well. He’s eating for us, so that’s a sign he’s pretty comfortable. He’s angry take him out, which is a good sign for raccoons. So, he’s doing well and raccoons, unlike some animals don’t really need their tails too much in the wild. So, it’s not gonna impact his life or ability to thrive in the wild,” Riley said. 
Blue Ridge officials hope to release the raccoon back into the wild by next week.