It has been more than a year since we have had any concerns with raccoons in our vegetable garden and compost, but on garbage collection day often in the wee small hours of the morning (4 a.m.) – the sensor lights go off as the raccoons make their trip around the cul-de-sac. It is not permissible (by city law) to have garbage out for curbside pickup until 7 am on collection day but the raccoons continue to return and find a midnight snack and usually make a mess if they can get into the garbage. Urban raccoons are a fact of life and can be downright irritating but relocating them is not the only answer.
It is easy to say we just want the problem raccoons to go away but usually raccoons hang around when they have found an easy source of food, water and perhaps a “safe” place to stay like your garden shed. As stated in the previous article on raccoons, unfortunately we have many attractions in our yards such as:
- Bird feeders overflowing with seeds
- Bird baths and fish ponds – a raccoons first choice of buffet
- Pet bowls and feed outside the home
- Garbage outside (often stinky in the warm weather) in easily accessible cans
- Access to your home through a pets “animal door” or,
- Into a porch searching out kitty's dinner – a wire screen door will not stop a raccoon or other wild animal
For us, the main deterrent to the raccoons still seem to be :
- Our freshest compost always has chicken wire and bricks on the (lockable) top and when we add new kitchen food waste – add shredded paper, manure, soil to cover and “water” the compost. Sometimes a small amount of lime is added
- We no longer feed the wild birds, and the squirrels, all year – only the hummingbirds so there is not a problem with seed on the ground
- As we now do not have any pets, believe this is the reason we don't have a problem with the raccoons urinating or going “poop” in the yard
- Our garbage can is stored inside the enclosed garage most of the year
- If necessary we freeze our "fishy" garbage and try to remember to put it out in the garbage on collection day
If you still have raccoon problems and live in the city, be critical of your yard and try to work out why the raccoons keep visiting your home. Remember it's not the raccoons fault he is in your garbage – he's just doing what comes naturally! We are not sure if placing lime in and around the compost bin area is a deterrent but we will continue to be vigilant in our habits as we do not want to attract raccoons to our yard.
Yes, we still have our nocturnal raccoon visits and sometimes watch them as they move on through our yards to easier pickings elsewhere – like the delicious, ripe fruit under the trees in the neighbour's yard!
This will continue to be a widespread problem as homes and people move further out from cities and the raccoon, and other wildlife species, adapt to their new neighbourhood – your yard.
- Composting food waste is now the “law” where we live – so it will be interesting to see how the resident raccoons (and bears) deal with this, especially in the spring time if their natural food source is scarce
- Raccoons may be cute but can be very vicious with a large raccoon weighing up to 60 lbs
- Raccoons prefer to stay away from humans but if they have young or are cornered may attack
- Raccoons are smart and have very good memories - and will keep returning to an easy food source
- Sadly, if raccoons have taken up winter residence in your attic hire a professional animal removalist and then block the entryway into your home to prevent re-occurrence
- Keep young children and pets away from known raccoon activity areas
- When we had both pet cats and dogs the neighbourhood cats would come into our home through the animal doors so it will not stop a raccoon unless the door is very small – close permanently if necessary
Links & References
- Lots of good information on raccoons
- Wikipedia on Raccoons including size, habits and diseases
- 75% mortality rate for raccoons when relocated
- Lots more information from original Caramel and Parsley article on how to keep raccoons out of your compost bins
- IUCN status Procyon lotor
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