Woman charged with taking a raccoon to North Dakota bar

Woman charged with taking a raccoon to North Dakota bar

A woman has been charged with three crimes after she took a raccoon called Rocky to a bar in North Dakota.

Erin Christensen faces up to two years in prison and a $7,500 fine after she took the raccoon to Maddock Bar for a happy hour on September 6.

A bartender said no one was bitten by Rocky during the visit, but the outing sparked a health scare, with North Dakota's health and human services department warning about possible rabies exposure.

Christensen, 38, was arrested last week after authorities found her and the raccoon by serving several search warrants in and around Maddock, in the north of the state.

She told the Bismarck Tribune that the police brought a battering ram to break down the front door of the house after they found her and Rocky.

Christensen described it as a shock and awe campaign. She has been charged with providing false information to law enforcement, tampering with physical evidence and unlawful possession of furbearers.

Christensen said her family found Rocky on the side of a road about three months ago. She said they were nursing the raccoon back to health and planned to release him back into the wild.

Rocky was euthanized after his capture. He had tests negative for rabies.

In cities and towns raccoons, which have remarkably dextrous front paws, are known as scavengers who will often trawl through trash cans for food.

In the wild, raccoons enjoy eating fruits, seeds, nuts, birds eggs, and plants.

According to National Geographic Kids, raccoons are also excellent swimmers, hunting fish, frogs and crayfish. It is legal to own a raccoon as a pet in some states in the US, including Florida, although often the raccoons must not have been taken in from the wild.

In North Dakota, raccoon ownership is illegal, but Christensen described Rocky's plight as unfair Too much was done to detain an innocent raccoon, she told the Tribune.

They were not worried about the health of us if we had rabies or not. They were worried about finding and killing Rocky and putting me behind bars. Calvin Coolidge, the 30th president of the United States, kept a raccoon named Rebecca as a pet during his time in the White House.

In 1926, Rebecca was presented to Coolidge by a Mississippi supporter who suggested that the president eat the raccoon. The White House Historical Association website states that the family fell in love with her.

One of Rebecca's favorite pastimes was playing in a partly filled bathtub with a cake of soap. Grace Coolidge, the first lady, would later reminisce.

When the Coolidges left the White House in 1929, they sent Rebecca to the Rock Creek Zoo because they wanted her to live with other raccoons, according to the White House Historical Association.

Raccoons live in the wild for about one to three years, National Geographic Kids said, but some raccoons have lived up to 20 years in captivity.