Apparently the citizens of Spain are being terrorized by a masked bandit.

The North American raccoon has established itself in the Iberian Peninsula. Spaniards are worried that the animal they call “mapache” will spread new diseases like rabies — diseases we have learned to live with here in Minnesota where raccoons are common.

Like raccoons, Spaniards like to dine at night, so they will likely see these furry critters crossing the road on their way out to eat paella at 10 p.m., only to return home to an upended garbage can.

Oh, the horror.

Meanwhile, in Japan, biologists also are railing against a terrible invasive species — the largemouth bass. The bass, and bluegills, were introduced to some Japanese lakes by sportsmen. Apparently they have been displacing local fish species, including a Japanese carp.

Here at home, bass have not done their job fighting off invasive carp. But things have become so bad in Japan that in 2010 an angler caught a 22 pound, 4 ounce largemouth that tied the world record.

I feel so sorry for them. Why do Godzilla-like monsters always show up in Japan?

Another common Minnesota creature, the beaver, was introduced to Patagonia in the southern tip of South America, and reportedly is thriving. The residents there don’t seem to mind as the beavers are apparently improving habitat for brown trout, another non-native species. The beavers are slowly moving north. If they cross the Panama Canal they might reach Iowa by 2020.

As Minnesota grapples with zebra mussels and bighead carp, one can’t help wonder if we are getting the short end of the stick in terms of the invasive species balance of trade.

Or whether one country’s familiar and cuddly species is another country’s demon.


V. John Ella lives in Robbinsdale.