Controlling raccoons | Living the Country Life

Controlling raccoons

These ring-tailed bandits work 24-7 to outsmart you

One night last summer my cat was growling outside our bedroom window. I went to see what she was all upset about, and found a raccoon staring at me on the other side of the glass. The next day was garbage collection, and our garbage can was out on the curb. The raccoon probably wanted more where that came from.

Becky McPeake is an extension wildlife expert at the University of Arkansas. She says these ring-tailed rascals are very intelligent, but one way to outsmart them is to not become friends with them. If they see you’re a source of food, they’ll get used to human activity and start hanging around. They typically move around at night, so put potential food sources like garbage cans outside during the day.

To get rid of unwanted four-legged bandits, McPeake says the best method is live trapping, if your state allows it.

"In some states they really don’t want you to move raccoons around very much because of the disease issues, because of rabies. In other states they might not be quite as stringent. So if you are allowed legally to live trap them, then you can move them many, many miles away with a river or mountain, or some type of barrier between you and them," says McPeake.

If trapping isn’t an option, McPeake says you can try chasing them off through their sense of smell.

"Mothballs are one of our common home remedies. We sometimes recommend them with the caveat that they may or may not work. Raccoons, as well as other wildlife like skunks, sometimes are repelled by those odors," says McPeake. "There’s been some evidence that when female raccoons are having their young in their attic, you can get some coyote urine and you can put that out around where they are, and the female will take her young and move elsewhere."

McPeake says you could also try loud music and flashing lights to make them to leave. Apparently it’s not their choice of entertainment.

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