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How Many Raccoons is Too Many Raccoons

two-raccoons-eatingWe had a large raccoon problem stretching out over two years. Besides making a huge mess out of our trash, they were also killing our chickens. I suppose I would have felt better about it if they had been eating the chickens, but these raccoons seemed to be killing for sport. They killed the chickens and left the carcasses for us to clean up. Sometimes they would bite the heads off of the chickens and leave the rest – what a way to go.

So we watched their numbers grow for a while, and finally we decided that we just couldn’t take any more. We decided to do something about it. I set out several live traps and I baited them with cat food. I knew which brand they liked because it was always disappearing from my cat’s bowl overnight. I promptly caught half a dozen coons of various sizes.

My wife thought that they were so cute. She insisted that I not kill them, and instead she promised to relocate them to a nearby State Park, about five miles away. So I trapped and trapped, and she relocated and relocated, and we carried on this way for some time.

Eventually I began to feel like this really wasn’t working out very well. I was going through a large bag of cat food every couple of days. And the raccoons were getting harder and harder to catch – they had started turning over the live traps, using their paws through the cage mesh to slide the food bowls outside of the traps, etc. After a while, we started to wonder if some of the raccoons we were catching weren’t the same ones that we had already relocated.

Finally, I decided to call the fish and game department, and I learned the truth. In order to properly relocate a raccoon, you have to move it a minimum of fifteen miles from its home. Otherwise, they will be right back within a few days. I guess they’ve got GPS under their little fur coats.

We kept up with the trapping a little while longer. On her last trip to relocate several large raccoons, my wife had quite a surprise. She was frightened witless when she released the trapped coons, and instead of running off into the woods like they usually did, they turned and started to chase after her. She managed to hop up on the back of the truck, and eventually the coons left without anyone getting hurt. Needless to say, the little critters didn’t seem so cute anymore, and she had a different attitude about letting me kill them after that happened.

I called the fish and game department again, and learned that there were no laws protecting the raccoons, as they are listed as a pest by the state. Long story short, we caught some more and after nearly six months we felt like the raccoon population was getting back down to a level similar to how it had been before they became a nuisance. We didn’t try to eradicate them – we just tried to control their numbers.

Our cat was quite happy to be the primary consumer of cat food at our house once again.

Several weeks after I had controlled the population of coons, I happened by my neighbor’s house while he was out front working in the yard, and I stopped to visit. He was so proud to show me that a big batch of skunks had made their home right under his front porch. Aaaahhhh… here we go again.


Thanks to FarmerDave for participating in the [Grow] Network Writing Contest.

We have over $2,097 in prizes lined up for the Fall 2015 Writing Contest, including all of the following:

– A 21.5 quart pressure canner from All American, a $382 value
– A Survival Still emergency water purification still, a $288 value
– 1 free 1 year membership in the [Grow] Network Core Community, a $239 value
– A Worm Factory 360 vermicomposting system from Nature’s Footprint, a $128 value
– 2 large heirloom seed collections from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, valued at $103 each
– A Metro-Grower Elite sub-irrigation growing container from Nature’s Footprint, a $69 value
– 2 copies of the complete Home Grown Food Summit, valued at $67 each
– 3 free 3 month memberships in the [Grow] Network Core Community, valued at $59 each
– 4 copies of the Grow Your Own Groceries DVD video set, valued at $43 each
– A Bug Out Seed Kit from the Sustainable Seed Company, a $46 value
– 4 copies of the Alternatives To Dentists DVD video, valued at $33 each
– 4 copies of the Greenhouse of the Future DVD and eBook, valued at $31 each

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COMMENTS(23)

  • geraldc says:

    An easy way to catch raccoons with small cost, a 55 gal drum with 1/2 lid on a hinge so lid goes down screen door spring attached to lid to bring it back up add a small pole above hinged lid for an partially opened can of tuna to be tied to on a sting just high enough for raccoon to need to stand up or maybe jump a little to reach can of tuna and when he comes down on hinged lid in he goes. 1 st barrel I made catch 5 raccoon that night and did relocate over 20 miles away

  • Phebe says:

    I would rate this an excellent story… but for some reason it won’t let me vote! email me if you have any suggestions..

    1. Michael Ford says:

      Hi Phebe – Sorry you’re having trouble with the “voter.” It looks like things are working alright for others – several people have cast their votes… You have to use the star ratings at the bottom of the post. If it’s still not working, try refreshing the page or opening it with a different browser. Good luck – thanks for reading & commenting! Michael

  • d. henry Lee says:

    Why on God’s green earth would anyone want a family of skunks living under their front porch. They still stink. I can go out into my yard at night and tell that a skunk has passed through. As for the raccoons, I don’t leave dog food out at night; I feed my dog inside because the food outside will attract unwanted critters. I had bbq’d raccoon at a church and it was good. Just eat them.

  • CATRYNA says:

    We live in the rurals and often run into raccoon problems. We trap them and shoot them in the trap, same with squirrels and rabbits.

    1. Amanda says:

      That is a horrid way to treat a live animal and not at all humane. You’re a travesty to the human race. Why don’t I lock u up and shoot you just for being you.

      1. CATRYNA WHITE says:

        Humane or inhumane, some things are a fact of life. When you live in the rurals you have to do what you have to do to protect your livestock and crops. If you have no experience, in this respect, you don’t have the ability to be objective. Sorry to have offended you, but that is the reality of some of our lives, be that as it may.

  • Softballumpire says:

    Ecc 1:18 For in much wisdom is much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow. It sounds like your wife is making the transition from uninformed to become a woman of wisdom. Learning that the purpose of live traps is for conservation of ammunition and protection from stray bullet damage. It keeps the target confined and relatively stationary so a .22 pistol can be used instead of a .30 cal rifle bullet. It also allows you to transport to a site where the gunshot is less likely to be noted and reported to local constabulary.

    City dwellers take a while to grasp some lessons.

    1. Amanda says:

      This is horrid you should be jailed for animal cruelty. What the hell is wrong with people on this site. What part of your human form makes this ok?

  • Jack says:

    Trapping and relocating and/or killing is not gonna solve your problem – it’s just putting a band aid on it. Building a better chicken coop would be a good start. Better trash management would also be good – sometimes a cup or so of ammonia in the trash bins every so often can keep the wildlife out. Most of the wildlife that is left has learned to adapt to humans and they can be very opportunistic. We sometimes do a great job at providing them with easy sources of food and shelter. Eliminating the reasons they show up is a more efficient approach and a better long term solution. BTW – most animals that are relocated do not survive.

  • Elaine says:

    I have been having a problem with a badger eating my tomatoes. I have tried many things including urine, which lasted until it rained. Well, I read that some animals hate the smell of epsom salt. I have sprinkled it around, especially the wood pile where he lives.
    So far so good!

    1. Michael Ford says:

      Hi Elaine – I hope the epsom salt trick works out for you. We have some more info coming up about raccoons – so maybe there will be something in there that helps too. 🙂

  • HollyF says:

    I am saddened so often women seem clueless to the realities of nature. I love and respect life but the line is drawn at my livelihood. Right now my little farm is a hobby but if ever the SHTF, I must be ready to survive on it. It takes just one match to destroy all that you have built. This is how many live in the world so close to starvation.

    I found a animal had reached under my pen and killed 2 turkey poults. I put my wildlife cam out and saw the raccoon in action. I was ready the next night with my .22 and he will no longer be a problem. This is just life.

    1. Amanda says:

      You killed the raccoon and you tout “survival” but alas you just are a piece of crap who justifies disgusting behavior by saying “someday”. People in this country are spoon fed children who have serial murderer tendencies and a disrespect for life.

  • Debbie says:

    Before “relocating” any animal, check your state laws. In some states, it is illegal to transport a live trapped animal to another location.

  • CaptTurbo says:

    For city backyards, a gas piston .22 cal air rifle will do nice quiet work on a coon. For more rural setting a 5.56 is more fun because you get to see them explode.

    1. HollyF says:

      Thanks for the laugh! My feelings exactly and your post was certainly more descriptive than my nuanced one. I was considering using my 30/40 Krag but felt the neighbors would not appreciate it. 😉

      1. CaptTurbo says:

        That Krag would sure fill the bill. I used to whack the groundhogs with a select fire 5.56 set to burst fire. It was amazing how they just exploded. As development encroached our farm with condos, I tend not to go so full on Rambo on them these days but they still get smoked. 😉

        1. HollyF says:

          I had the fortune to be trained by a skilled trapper the art of trapping. I learned to set snares and body traps in different conditions. My crown glory was setting a 330 conibear ( with a rope) and making my catch. He shook my hand “you graduate!”
          Unfortunately, I found myself in Cali so I can’t use any of my skills because trapping is illegal here. The drought has made predation terrible and I must rely on guns and defenses. A hungry desparate animal will push the limit. Someday I hope this isn’t me.
          -Holly

          1. CaptTurbo says:

            I trapped muskrats as a kid with the conibear traps. I used jaw traps at first but didn’t like them because they really were cruel. The conibears killed them instantly every time. I’m a bow hunter and have no problem taking game but I strive to do it humanely. I don’t want to see even a lowly varmint suffer.

    2. Michael Ford says:

      Ha – When Julie wrote in about her raccoon problem – I knew we’d have 2 opposite responses: 1) Kill/remove them and 2)Harbor/love them. But I didn’t anticipate exploding them. Thanks CaptTurbo.

      1. CaptTurbo says:

        Explodin’ varmints has always been great fun. Now if you plan to eat them it’s the wrong way to go because you just end up with a few pieces that are mostly a big blood clot. lol!!!!! For the dinner table stick with the .22 long rifle.

  • Catherine says:

    One of the best and easiest ways to keep critters from living under your house/porch, etc is to light up the area at night. Most critters hate night lights and will go packing to find living quarters elsewhere. Just hook up a spotlight to an extension cord and place under your house/porch, even a regular light bulb may be enough. Easiest to put on a timer so you don’t have to remember to plug/unplug nightly.

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