A Tennessee sheriff’s office is on the hunt for a person they believe slaughtered almost a dozen raccoons – the state’s “official wild animal” – then dumped the critters’ dead bodies under a bridge.
“This is absolutely ridiculous that some individuals continue to do what they do,” the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office in Newport posted in a Facebook message on Saturday. “Our community has such beauty and then you have a criminal kill these raccoons and throw them under the Bridgeport Bridge.”
The office included gruesome photos of the scene, which show 11 lifeless raccoons strewn across an asphalt lot, surrounded by trash, under the Bridgeport Bridge. The raccoon was adopted as the state’s official wild animal back in 1971, according to the Tennessee state government.
The sheriff’s office said it was tipped off to the scene by a resident complaint, and the office thanked those who cleaned up the area over the weekend.
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“Thanks to Ron for coming in on his day off and our litter crew to clean up the mess that was left,” the office wrote in an update. “Trailer full of trash, appliances, tires and removed the raccoons from the area. We will be monitoring this area more often. Thanks for the citizen complaint that we received this morning and glad to get it cleaned up quickly.”
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Sheriff C.J. Ball said that the raccoons “appeared to be eaten by another animal partially,” WATE reported. It is unclear how the animals died.
Ball added the person who dumped the raccoons could face criminal charges.
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“If we receive information of who is responsible, we will contact our DA office to see what we can prosecute the individuals with,” Ball told WATE.
The office is calling on the public to come forward with any tips on who dumped the animals and the trash.
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“PLEASE NOTIFY the sheriffs office of illegal dumping and other issues” that cause the county to be “trashed,” the office said, promising litter citations if the office is able to prove to whom the trash belongs.