A retired Canadian mountie has dubbed himself the ‘raccoon whisperer’ after spending the last two decades feeding swarms of his forest friends every night.
James Blackwood has become somewhat of a YouTube sensation since he started uploading videos of himself feeding raccoons on his home porch in Pictou County, Nova Scotia.
But it is Mr Blackwood’s most recent clip that has shocked and impressed social media viewers across the world after it was uploaded to Twitter, showing him feeding hot dogs to around 25 raccoons.
The furry mammals are usually considered dangerous to have on private land as they are carriers of rabies and other serious diseases, putting households with pets particularly at risk. They can also be aggressive when approached by humans.
Yet, Mr Blackwood appears completely at ease with the nursery of raccoons as they swarm around his legs and crawl on his shoulders and arms to nab a piece of sausage.
Almost all patiently wait their turn to be handed a treat until the container is emptied dry.
The well-behaved wild animals wait as Mr Blackwood disappears to grab more, before he returns with what he says is about 3kg worth of hot dogs.
Mr Blackwood tells viewers that the raccoons are ‘super hungry’ due to the cold weather and that they need to stock up on food to survive the harsh Canadian winter ahead.
The retired officer explained in another video that his love for the animals began in 1999, when wife Jane rescued an injured raccoon after it was hit by a car close to their property.
They nursed the animal back to health and released it into the wild, but it kept returning and eventually brought along a cub and more furry friends.
Mr Blackwood promised his wife before she died that he would continue to take care of the raccoons.
In a 2014 video, he said: ‘This was my wife’s project and she died in 2003 of cancer and begged me on her death bed to take care of her raccoons and cats and her mother.’
He said he has honoured his wife’s dying wish ever since, and feeds them everything from peanut butter sandwiches to crackers.
The retired Mountie started uploading videos of daily feeding time to his YouTube channel in 2011, which now boasts more than 233,000 followers. The latest hot dog video has now been viewed over 6 million times.
Mr Blackwood said the raccoons live in the forest around his property and every day he expects a visit from the hungry animals looking for treats at around 11pm.
Official Nova Scotia guidelines warn against feeding animals like raccoons and advises to ‘keep wildlife wild’.
But for the self-proclaimed Raccoon Whisperer, it appears to be a little late for that.