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Nuisance Species: Raccoons

Raccoons are well adapted to urban living. Raccoon damage typically involves raiding gardens, upsetting trash cans and taking up residence in chimneys, attics or other unwanted areas. Control is not difficult but requires persistence.

Garden fruits and vegetables can be very appealing and accessible to raccoons. For smaller garden plots, a single strand of electric fence can be strung eight inches above the ground.

An inexpensive radio that is turned on, placed under a garbage can and left in the garden overnight, will also often discourage raccoons from approaching.

The easiest solution for garbage can raids is to store the cans inside the garage or a shed overnight. Raccoons may also be repelled by coating the outside of the can with a weak solution of cayenne pepper in water or by placing a small dish of ammonia in the bottom of an empty can.

Uncapped chimneys are appealing nest den sites to raccoons. When this occurs they may be evicted by noise, combined with bright lights or a pan of ammonia sealed in the fireplace. Once the raccoon vacates the chimney, install a chimney cap. Identify and seal other attic entries after evicting the raccoon. Overhanging tree limbs provide easy access to your roof. Inspect your house and trim tree limbs where needed.

Occasionally raccoons will enter a house through a pet door. Since they can cause considerable damage if panicked, it is advisable to quietly open windows and doors through which the animal may exit and close doors that provide access to other parts of the house, before leaving the room. Wait quietly for the animal to escape.

Raccoons can transmit rabies, canine distemper and parvovirus to domestic animals and humans. You should avoid any raccoon that is active during daylight hours, has lost its fear of humans or appears uncoordinated, confused or listless. If you encounter such an animal, report these observations to the District Office; if exposed to a potentially sick animal, contact your local Health Department and/or your personal physician.

Nuisance or sick raccoons may be trapped without a permit, but it is illegal to live trap and relocate them to a new area. In order to prevent the possible spread of raccoon diseases in Ohio, all live trapped raccoons must be released again on the homeowner's property or humanely euthanized. Consult your district wildlife office for further information.