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Living Peacefully with Raccoons

Native Animal Rescue (NAR), Santa Cruz County’s only licensed wildlife intake rehabilitation facility, receives many calls from the public with questions, concerns and situations regarding raccoons. Many mother raccoons are trapped, relocated or killed each year by people who consider them to be a nuisance. Baby raccoons or “kits” are then needlessly orphaned from their mother. Some of the luckier orphans are brought to N.A.R. for rehabilitation, while others are left to die a slow inhumane death..

Springtime and summer, NAR’s busiest time of year is here. Mother raccoons are now looking for a safe place to give birth to and house their young.

What can you do if there are baby raccoons present in your attic or under your porch ?

Wait as long as possible before you attempt eviction. Be patient. Mother raccoons generally move their babies on their own when they are about 8 weeks of age. Be very careful not to separate parents from their offspring;  doing so may result in unnecessary property damage as the raccoons frantically try to reunite with their offspring.  Close off all but one entrance or exit to the den.  Wait until all raccoons have left before sealing up the final entrance.

To urge a raccoon with young out of their den which may be under your house, deck or in the attic, place a small battery operated radio set to a talk station into the den as well as a light. This disturbance will help convince the raccoon to relocate her young. Many people choose to wait until the kits are old enough to follow their mother out of the den.  The kits will be around 8 weeks of age.  Seal the entrance when all the raccoons have vacated.

If you have a denning raccoon in the area, keep dogs under control by housing and feeding them indoors at night when raccoons are most active.

Live trapping is not recommended for ridding your property of raccoons. Trapping and relocating is only a temporary solution, inhumane and illegal. Relocated raccoons have to fight with already established raccoons for territory, food and shelter. Most do not survive.

If you hire a licensed trapping service in hopes of relocating the raccoon, be aware  that this will not happen. According to the California Department of Fish and Game, a trapped wild animal must be released in the area where trapped or euthanized. A licensed trapper must follow the Fish and Game regulation or they will loose their license. We have heard that some trappers methods of euthanasia can be extremely inhumane. The method in question is drowning. Drowning the helpless and frightened raccoon in the trap which they have been caught.

The following are some time tested methods you can try in order to promote harmony with our fellow creatures:

  • DO NOT FEED RACCOONS:  Deliberate feeding of raccoons makes them more comfortable around humans and more likely to get into situations where they are unwanted or in danger.  IF THERE IS NO FOOD AND SHELER TO SUPPORT THEM,  MOST WILD ANIMALS WILL GO AWAY AND THRIVE OFF THE NATURAL HABITAT!
  • FASTEN GARBAGE CAN LIDS.
  • KEEP SHEDS AND GARAGE DOORS CLOSED.
  • CUT BACK TREE LIMBS approximately 3′ from roof lines.
  • HARVEST ALL RIPE FRUIT from trees, shrubs and off the ground.
  • REMOVE BRUSH PILES AND TRASH ACCUMULATION
  • PICK UP FAMILY PET FOOD AND WATER DISHES
  • SPRINKLE YOUR LAWN OR PLANTERS WITH CAYENNE PEPPER
  • PLACE AMONIA SOAKED RAGS AROUND THE YARD AND UNDER THE HOUSE.
  • PLAY A RADIO
  • CLOSE OFF OPENINGS WHERE ROOF LINES OVERLAP
  • REPLACE AND REINFORCE DAMAGED SCREEN VENTS
  • KEEP CRAWL SPACES TIGHTLY COVERED
  • KEEP A SPARK ARRESTER ON THE CHIMNEY

Sharing the neighborhood with our native wildlife is a privilege, one we can enjoy. Catching sight of a family of raccoons at night enrich our lives. We can all live together in harmony.

For more information on wildlife or if you are interested in becoming a raccoon rehabilitator, please call Native Animal Rescue at: (831)462-0726

Visit our website:  www.nativeanimalrescue.org

By Vikki Simons-Krupp
Board Member-Rehabilitator – Native Animal Rescue

Site Development: Melody Sharp