How to get along with backyard raccoons

A close-up picture of a raccoon
A raccoon (Procyon lotor) looks back at the camera while in trees.
Photo by Dylan Dando / Getty Images

Racoons (Procyon lotor) are nature’s problem-solving geniuses and can be a joy to watch as they explore, learn, and play together. But not everyone views raccoons as a fun visitor, especially if their actions impact property. Fortunately, there are ways to get along with raccoons without causing any harm to them, or the environment.

1 Resolve attractant issues. Do raccoons keep visiting your yard? There’s a good chance there’s a food source nearby. Whether it’s unsecured garbage, ripe/rotten fruits and vegetables left out, pet food kept outdoors, or direct feeding of wildlife (and birds), these attractants will keep raccoons and other wildlife returning to the source, or staying near it. Resolving these issues on your property, and talking to neighbours about attractant management, can reduce the interest wildlife has in your yard. Please note: feeding wildlife is often illegal in provincial or municipal regulations and may result in fines.

2 It may be a short visit. Raccoons and other wildlife may look for temporary shelter during extreme weather events and changes, while hiding from external events (like fireworks, dogs, etc.), and even while looking for new food sources. Leave the animals be for a few days and see if they move on their own without pressure.

3 Non-lethal deterrents can help. A variety of options are available, ranging from DIY solutions like a transistor radio or bleach solution near their entry points to your yard, to flashing “predator eye” lights and motion activated sprinklers. These deterrents work best when several are used and rotated.

4 Find non-lethal, humane wildlife removal services. If raccoons or other wildlife have taken up residence in your home or business, locate a humane wildlife removal company that has referrals and can explain their processes. We recommend visiting AnimalKind.ca to learn more about the BC SPCA’s certification program or speaking with your local SPCA/wildlife rehabilitator.

Raccoons are native across much of Canada and play significant roles in ecosystems, as well as being family-oriented and intelligent. Removal of raccoons will not resolve many issues, including those listed above; managing attractants and implementing coexistence strategies will create long-term, sustainable solutions.

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