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The runaway raccoon from the Nevins Street subway station is on the lam no more, THE CITY has learned.
The crafty critter — which sparked a string of subway delays and service changes dating back to November — was released into Prospect Park on Sunday after walking into a cage in the station, police said.
“Chepe, he was my friend!” a police officer who said she took part in a seven-hour search Friday for the elusive raccoon told THE CITY, using the name station workers gave the furry intruder. “I miss him already.”
The raccoon had, in recent months, become a pesky presence at the Nevins Street station, repeatedly causing trains to be delayed or to skip the Downtown Brooklyn stop on the No. 2, 3, 4 and 5 lines because it wandered onto the tracks or a platform.
“I thought, ‘Wow, I only saw raccoons in Central Park,” said Lae-Tisha Forde, 39, who’d spotted the critter Sunday as a No. 2 train pulled into the station. “[I thought] this is a first, they’re traveling now.”
Forde said the raccoon scampered back into the tunnel as the train arrived, marking one of its final escapes before being released into the wild.
A Tasty Trap
The raccoon’s underground odyssey finally came to an end after efforts to lure Chepe into a cage stocked with plantains and chicken succeeded.
“It’s better off in the park,” said Forde, who had tweeted to the @nyctsubway Twitter account after her raccoon run-in over the weekend.
@MTA Just saw a Raccoon on the downtown platform at Nevins Street— tish_atiny ⚓️ (@tishafi) December 29, 2019
The sightings at Nevins Street — which earned the varmint the “Chepe” nickname and fleeting social media fame — came amid a surge in the number of subway disruptions that the Transit Authority has pinned on raccoons.
According to MTA figures, raccoons delayed 87 subway trains in 2019 — a 383% increase from the 18 raccoon-related delays in 2018. In 2016, there were only three delays caused by raccoons, according to the MTA.
As THE CITY reported in November, most of the subway raccoon service interruptions have occurred at outdoor portions of the subway system in Brooklyn and Queens.
“This area is a raccoon area, they’ve been here,” said Loreene Isler, 36, who said raccoons are a fixture near an entrance to the L line’s East 105th Street Street stop in Canarsie. “We invaded their space; they didn’t invade ours.”
But raccoons have also found their way into underground stations, according to incident reports obtained by THE CITY.
In March, 13 trains on the A, E and F lines were delayed after a raccoon caused a train’s brakes to go into emergency just south of 34th Street-Herald Square. Last January, trains on the No. 6 line were slowed or rerouted for close to two hours after a raccoon was struck on the tracks.
In November, the Nevins Street racoon twice caused trains to be held in stations as police officers tried to catch the animal.
“The raccoon escaped,” @nyctsubway tweeted after 11 trains were delayed. “He/she is at large.”
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