A raccoon sighting Friday morning near the pickleball courts behind the Jonathan Daniels Preschool in Keene caused students to remain inside the rest of the day, but did not put anyone in harm’s way, officials said.
Eric Hannett, a conservation officer with N.H. Fish & Game, said he responded to the scene at 227 Maple Ave. around 10:45 a.m., at which point the animal had already gone back into the woods nearby. People playing pickleball at the courts reported the raccoon to authorities for fear it had rabies, but there is no way to tell if it was sick, Hannett added.
“It wasn’t aggressive. It didn’t come after [the people at the courts] or show any aggression towards them,” Hannett said. “... [The raccoon] could have something wrong with them, they could have nothing wrong with them.”
Hannett added that it’s not uncommon for raccoons to be awake and searching for food during the day.
Joanne Mulligan, director of Jonathan Daniels, said the school kept students inside the rest of the day as a precaution.
“We had a class on the playground, and the folks who reported it, the folks who were on the pickleball courts, came over and told them, and they came inside immediately,” she said.
Nearby Keene Middle School also kept students inside initially, Superintendent Robert Malay said. But middle-schoolers were allowed back outside by early afternoon, though Fish & Game officials told school staff to keep an eye on the woods, and not let anyone go near the tree line, Malay said.
Hannett, the conservation officer, said anyone who encounters an animal that may be sick should stay away from it and call local law enforcement.