Unwelcome Raccoons in Your Yard?

Here’s a good way to get them to leave!

Many people trap raccoons to remove them from their property. However, trapping may have adverse affects. Raccoons are highly intelligent omnivores and, like bears, need to spend many months with their mother in order to learn how to survive. If the mother is trapped and relocated the offspring may not be able to find enough food to survive the winter. They also have the potential to carry a number of diseases and if moved to a new location can introduce these to resident raccoons. In Ontario it is illegal to move a raccoon more than 1km from where it was found.

In order to not disturb the family and keep our wildlife populations healthy you need to convince the raccoons that your yard is unpleasant. This will force them to choose a new location that is hopefully more suitable. You can try soaking a rag in ammonia and placing it in a plastic dish (i.e., empty yoghurt container) with holes punched in it. The smell is unpleasant to them. Replace it as needed until they are gone. They are also wary of humans and dogs. You can try gathering some hair from a salon or brushing a dog and gathering the fur and placing this around the area they are using as a latrine or around the edges of your yard to prevent them from choosing a new spot on your property. Urine is another great deterrent. You can buy wolf or coyote urine online, or use your own to save money.

Other deterrents include playing the radio nearby on a talk radio station. Be sure it’s quiet enough so it doesn’t disturb your neighbours. Raccoons have amazing hearing so it doesn’t have to be very loud and as an added bonus they get to listen to CBC all night. Sometimes rubber snakes work. You can look in the dollar store for some. They need to be moved frequently (once a day) or else the clever little bandits learn they’re fake.

Most importantly: REMOVE ALL FOOD from your yard. Raccoons are hanging around in the same spot for months because there is food. They will eat garbage, bird food, fruit trees, pet food, BBQ grease. Removing these items will also prevent bears from coming in as well. If there are attractants in your yard, trapping and relocating will only work in the short term as other animals will be attracted to the same food source and fill the open niche you have created.

These deterrents work for most wildlife, squirrels, skunks, otters, cats and are a humane way to work with wildlife and use their intelligence as a way of coexistence. It speaks to the animals in their own language and creates a relationship where urban wildlife can coexist with us. People often detest the animals that have adapted to living in human settlements but we could also appreciate their intelligence and adaptability.

Sara Stewart, Project Coordinator “Predator Friendly Farming”
West Coast Wildlife Conservation