City Wildlife
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Animal Services - Raccoons

Raccoons have become a part of city life and while they can be fun to watch they can also cause damage and become a nuisance. The number of raccoons in your area depends directly on the number of food sources and den sites that are also available.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Male raccoons are solitary and these are usually the ones you find sleeping on decks and roof tops. Females usually have a den site and prefer protected elevated areas for the protection of the young. Raccoons in an urban setting can become quite tame and seem to have little or no fear of humans. They are nocturnal and sleep during the day, however during breeding season you may see an active raccoon during daylight hours. Occasionally they are also flushed from hiding during the day. They are not true hibernators which means they may be seen during milder winter weather. Sometimes a group of raccoons may winter together, this is usually a group of siblings. A female raccoon has one litter per year, however, if the first litter die she is capable of having a second. The young stay with the female until the fall and then disperse. Raccoons are only aggressive if cornered they would sooner run away if confronted. Males can become aggressive during mating season. Raccoons will eat almost anything that is why it is so important to store garbage away.


DISEASES: Raccoons can carry distemper, parvovirus, mange, fleas, and roundworm. The fox and skunk strain of rabies does not seriously affect our raccoon population. However, with the introduction of the raccoon strain of rabies from the United States this may become a problem for our raccoon populations in the future.

SIGHTINGS:

-In a Tree:
Normal Behaviour, leave 24-48 hours it should move on providing there are no dogs to threaten its safety.
-Sleeping on a Deck: Normal in an urban area, should leave overnight. If it returns, frighten away with noise or water from the hose (summer only).
-Out in the Day: May have been frightened from its hiding place. Also normal during breeding season.

ABNORMAL BEHAVIOUR:

Raccoon exhibiting the following behaviours:
-Staggering or appears drunk, falling over, disoriented, paralysis of hind limbs.
-Mucous caked heavily around eyes and nose.
-Over friendly and approaches pets or people.
-Curled up in a ball in an open area of the yard during daylight hours.


WHAT ARE THEY LOOKING FOR IN A HOME?

  • Attics: They access through damaged or weak areas of your home via loose or rotten soffit, loose or rotten shingles, roof vents with inadequate screening. (Screen all vents incl. roof vents with 16 gauge galvanized steel mesh.) Garages left open that allow an access into the attic. (Never leave garage door open for any length of time) Rotten area behind eavestrough, where roof meets soffit. (Repair and or replace damaged area)
  • Chimney: One that is not capped or screened properly. Remember to cap every chimney (Cap chimney with 16 gauge stainless steel mesh or cap)
  • Decks: Males prefer them for lounging or daytime sleeping. They will stay up top or crawl beneath. Females prefer to stay beneath a deck with young, often as a secluded den site. (Enclose with 16 gauge 1 inch x 1 inch stainless steel mesh, bury screen one foot into earth and one foot out in an L shape this will also keep out burrowing animals like skunks).
  • Sheds: These are considered great homes for raccoons. They are often unfinished or in disrepair allowing easy access. (Enclose and secure as you would your home, follow deck repair for foundation area to prevent burrowing animals.)
  • Rooftops or Balconies: Raccoons prefer these areas as a temporary resting site for the day. If it is quiet and comfortable they may return to it daily. (Check daily, discourage raccoons with noise or during the summer try spraying with water.)
  • TV Antenna: Used as an access onto roof of home. Overhanging branches or trees can also be utilized for this purpose. Raccoons can even scale brick walls. (Cut branches back at least 15' from your home. Remove old T.V. Antenna's. If you cannot remove antenna, wrap base in sheet metal, weld together with smooth seam and bury into ground).

REMOVE FOOD ATTRACTIONS

  • Garbage:Keep in steel garbage cans, secure lids, keep upright, store indoors if possible. Do not put out until day of pick up. If a raccoon has access to garbage, even in a secured can, they can usually open lids etc. Try deterrents like mothballs or an inch of pure ammonia in the bottom of the garbage cans.
  • Compost:Secure lid every time you use composter. Sprinkle strong smelling repellents such as naphtha flakes, ammonia or Tabasco Sauce in the area.
  • Lawn and Garden:Be on the alert Spring and Fall. Raccoons will tear up lawns searching for grub larvae during Spring and Fall months. Maintain a good lawn care program to avoid grub infestation. Try repellents such as: Pure Soap Flakes sprinkled near problem area, water into lawn thoroughly. Noisy windchimes, a radio, scarecrow, sensor lights using a 100 watt bulb for every (50x50 sq. feet) or try a motion sensor sprinkler. Highlight problem months on your calender so you can take preventative action. Use the above methods in combination with others, when using noise deterrents make sure you are not disturbing your neighbours. 

HOW TO EVICT A RACCOON FROM YOUR HOME, ATTIC OR CHIMNEY?

Without a proper Home Inspection Program in place and a home that may need some repairs you may be inviting a raccoon to be your guest.

If you think you have an animal in your home, check to find the entrance area. Sprinkle flour near this area and look for footprints or try stuffing a rag or a ball of paper in the opening to see if it is removed.

Encourage the animal to leave on its own, if it is a mother she should relocate her young too. Raccoons prefer dark quiet places. Try placing a loud radio turned onto a talk station in the area. Enter the area and bang pots and pans every hour or so. Illuminate the attic, keeping fire safety in mind. Try odour repellents such as Naphtha Flakes in stockings or placing a dirty cat litter box in the area can be used as an ammonia repellent. If the raccoon can escape the noise, smell or light these methods will not work effectively.

Be persistent, leave the deterrents in effect for 48-72 hours. The raccoon should become annoyed and leave. You must be more determined than they are.

Before you enclose the area, make sure the animal is out. Check and make sure there are no young left behind. May through July are peak months for young. If you trap young in the nest, you will have a mother who will do more damage trying to get back in to your home. If the young die, not only is this inhumane but you will be left with the smelly decomposing carcasses.

To check an area for activity, try sealing the entrance area temporarily with a light window screen or a scrunched up rag. Leave this in place for 48-72 hours if it is undisturbed, check the area yourself and seal properly.

Block all holes with galvanized sheet metal or 16 gauge screen. Repair all other areas to home to prevent a further occurrence. Follow invasion/prevention methods listed for home.

Note:
Humane wildlife deterrents are available at many hardware stores and garden centres. Used kitty litter has a natural ammonia content that may deter wildlife. Blood Meal fertilizer can also be used as an effective repellent on lawns and gardens.


LIVE TRAPPING:


We do not advocate trapping, particularly during the Spring and Summer months due the possibility of orphaning young. Trapping is a "band-aid" approach and although it may appear to be the solution it does not solve the problem. To prevent a re-occurrence you must make the necessary alterations or repairs to your property or home. In discriminant trapping leaves orphaned young to starve, causes disease to spread and studies have shown that many relocated animals die. By law, live captured animals must be released within one kilometer to where they are caught.






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