Smart and agile, raccoons have a remarkable ability to overcome whatever obstacles stand between them and their next meal. They're also blessed with palates that delight in everything from earthworms and homegrown vegetables to garbage-can leftovers. Keeping determined raccoons out of a yard is difficult and may require help from the local wildlife authorities.
Give Them a Shock
If your local ordinances permit it, an electrical fence kit causing a mild shock offers the most effective raccoon control.
Use single-strand fencing if raccoons routinely climb over or dig beneath an existing fence. Run the strand of wire around the fence's perimeter, setting it 8 inches above the ground and about 8 inches from the base of the fence.
A single-strand polytape fence has wide wire wrapped in white or brightly colored, weatherproof tape. It has two advantages over uncoated, narrow wire: People are more likely to see it, and raccoons are more likely to remember it.
- If your yard has plenty of sun, look for a solar-powered kit; otherwise, you need a plug-in charger system.
- To ensure the raccoons actually approach the wire, wrap amounts of jam in aluminum foil and attach the "bait balls" along the fence with adhesive tape.
- Raccoons are only active at night, so turn the fence off in the daytime.
- Any electrical fence should be clearly marked with cautionary signs.
- If using one of these fences would endanger people or pets, look for another solution
- Inspect the fence regularly, and keep it well clear of vegetation that could short out the wiring.
Close the Cafe
Raccoons won't bother with food-free yards. To remove the temptations:
- Feed outdoor pets and remove their leftovers before nightfall.
- Promptly remove fallen fruit or nuts from around trees.
- Keep your garbage in a closed garage, garden shed or basement at night, or put it out in raccoon-proof garbage cans.
- If they still don't get the message, pour 1 cup of household ammonia into each garbage can after it's been emptied.
- Leaving the outdoor lights on and -- if it won't bother the neighbors -- having a portable radio playing near the trash area may be enough to send the animals elsewhere.
To secure your garbage cans' lids, stretch rubber bungee cords over them and attach the cord ends to the cans' handles.
Call In the Experts
If electrical fencing and food removal aren't options and deterrents prove ineffective, live trapping with the help of a wildlife professional is a last resort. Although live traps are commercially available to homeowners, trapping and releasing raccoons can mean disaster for the animals.
Adult raccoons raiding yards in spring and summer may be females with babies in nearby dens. Trapping and releasing them dooms their offspring to slow starvation. Releasing males in other areas, even if it's allowed in your area, only shifts the problem to someone else.