How can I keep raccoons away from my apple tree?

oceanna(7 WWA)May 5, 2013

I live in the Seattle general area. I have a tiny mini-dwarf Fuji apple tree. It's almost like a big bush. It can't be more than about 4.5' tall and some of the branches are almost to the ground.

A few feet away is a chain link fence at the back of my property, and beyond that is a greenbelt and raccoons live out there. Last year they climbed over the fence when I was sleeping late at night and stole every single apple off my tree the exact night before I was going to pick them all.

If I fenced the tree in, it would need to have a lid on the fence and that is prohibitively expensive, not to mention it would spoil the looks of my yard. They could chew right through any netting I can imagine. Metal or wire around the trunk wouldn't work as they can reach the branches from the ground and could probably jump to the top from the fence too. The trunk is very short, maybe 2+' tall.

Right now it's loaded with blossoms and bees and it looks like it's going to be a bumper crop this fall. That tree can put out an amazing amount of fruit, I mean bags and bags.

Is there anything I can do to discourage those darn raccoons?

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megamav(5a - NY)

My solution for all pests comes down to capital punishment, decided by a jury... Me.

For me it's just not worth it to hash up some creative plan to out-fox the fox, cause they will always find a way to foil your plans.

My backyard has become peaceful since I've ruthlessly dispatched ever squirrel I've seen. Not certain if raccoon climb up trunks, but the only non-lethal solution to me would be removing the lower branches so they can't leap onto them.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 7:01AM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

.22 air rifle...I have the RWS... a shot to the head=game me...i know can't play games with either eliminate them or they'll never quit. Same with rabbits, squirrels, etc...

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 9:18AM
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Raccoons are fairly easy to trap. I keep 3 traps baited with apples all year long. You have to get to them, before they get to you. This applies to all varmints, if you're going to get any fruit from your labors. I have a large garbage can full of water, that I drown them in, so they die quickly.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 9:39AM
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alan haigh

I tried drowning one once and it was painful to watch so I invested in a 1,000 FPS pellet gun which when a pellet is properly placed sends the animals into death throws immediately. A much kinder death than is likely to await anyone in natural circumstances.

Don't mind drowning squirrels because they do drown almost immediately but a coon has a slower matabolism and can hold out for a few very painful looking minutes.

The soft hearted people (my former self) trap and relocate them but this is supposed to be one of the cruelest fates of all, as the animals will be driven out by established populations. It is also illegal out of fear of spreading rabbis and such.

You can hirer a licensed trapper and deal with it that way but he will be a long term employee.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 10:14AM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

I trap coon as well. But for one small tree something like a chicken wire cage would work. Coon don't chew their way through wire but are strong. Four T posts and some chicken wire and you have won. If that's your only issue, not deer as well, the wire only needs to be in place from about a month before harvest.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 10:40AM
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If the Oceanna is like the few people I know in Seattle she will not be willing to bring harm to the coons.

As the time gets close the chickenwire cage is the best no harm option. If you add some noise makers to it, it might wake you up to run them off with a broom.

You could also buy an electric fence set-up and make several rings around the tree

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 11:54AM
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alan haigh

Raccoons are actually a disease threat to humans and extremely high populations around suburban areas needs to be checked by any ecological reasoning, even if they didn't carry rabies and some pathogen that can cause blindness in children and others if they accidentally rub any coon feces in their eyes.

They wipe out bird nests (that's right animal lovers- including song birds) and have so few natural predators that the main natural means of population control is rabbi epidemics.

The people of Seattle are probably on the high IQ end of the nations tree hugging population (not poking fun- I'm a major tree hugger) so I'm sure many Seattlites would be willing to pitch in for a better population balance of this amazingly successful species.

Show your loyalty to the green planet and don your raccoon coats!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 1:30PM
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funny posts here....anyway, laying in wait can be a very time-consuming and frustrating proposition. I would trap or F stated. I am presently trying to trap a crapping opposum (he craps in my bird fountain!). He will die...

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 2:34PM
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alan haigh

Oh, I should have mentioned that I trap and then shoot with the high powered pellet gun. That way I can place the pellet precisely.

I was once attacked by a mother in broad daylight when I approached a trap holding her cub and am lucky I got a very good shot off just in time and dropped her (I'm generally a poor shot). No signs of rabbis, just motherly instinct, I assume.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 3:29PM
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oceanna(7 WWA)

Oceanna is *exactly* like the people you know in Seattle, and she will not be willing to bring harm to the 'coons, as long as they don't hurt my dogs (and they never have). You got that right. Oceanna draws the line at the borders of her house -- spiders in the house are dead meat, as would be rats if they dared come in (and she feels like she'll go to Hell even for that). Let Mother Nature sort out the outdoors.

I just want my apples.

The chicken wire cage sounds like something even this ol' grandma could do by herself. That could solve the problem because the tree is so little, and the cage wouldn't have to be up there year 'round.


One more idea because I did some research on the computer . . .

Have any of you tried the water scarecrow? I went to bed laughing last night after watching the video, seeing the funny pictures, and reading some of the hilarious stories here, and I highly advise a visit to this page if you want some good laughs:

Would that work on raccoons?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 3:59PM
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Anyhow trapping is efficient when you have a population of raccoons exerting a continuous pressure. My neighbor used to trap 5 a week. But for these kind of one off events, trapping is less efficient (I use melon rind in the HavaHart trap). The chicken wire is a little trickier, at the very least you should dig up the surrounding lawn and continue the CW into the soil, and outward at a right angle, to prevent digging.
They dig well, specially now that they know what is in there.

What really always works, and is removable after the harvest, is an electric fence. It needs to be done well, with alternated wires and one hot wire as close to the ground as possible. It also needs the wildlife type of fence, not the cattle type. It does not kill anybody, and the dogs learn instantly to stay away.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 6:42PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

If you have access to a deer cam, you can find out just when your problem is coming around.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 9:49PM
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oceanna(7 WWA)

Glib, thanks for the additional details about the chicken wire. An electric fence did occur to me but I'm not sure what components I'd need. I don't know if the raccoons are jumping over to it from the fence, or climbing up from the ground. I did a hot wire a foot off the ground to stop doggy fence fighting years ago in my last house and one of my dogs got zapped. After that she decided it was safer to potty in the house and I had a dickens of a time re-training her to go out, gentle little soul that she was. That was a big oops.

Franktank, gee I wish I did, but I don't. Anyway it was just that one night when they stole all my apples. Other than that, nothing. I even talked with my neighbor today and he says they never bother his garden, but they did take tiny bites out of apples that were in a box on his deck last year.

I'm thinking more and more about that water scarecrow.

This post was edited by oceanna on Mon, May 6, 13 at 0:50

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 12:29AM
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bart1(6/7 Northern VA)

I feel your pain as last year the raccoons got every single one of my table grapes before I had one! I also have had total devestation on certain peach trees (not sure if it's raccoons or squirrels).

Like most of the posts above, I'm doing a lot of trapping, and I'm doing it nearly year 'round instead of just when things are getting ripe.

Last year, as my peaches were ripening, I put up temporary wire cages around them. I then covered the top with bird netting.

I had great results with this method (including putting traps near the trees) last year. I'd simply move the cage from tree to tree as they ripened.

I know a motivated racoon could get through this pretty easily, but maybe it just slowed them down a bit or confused them.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 7:52AM
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well, not killing is work. can you give more detail? first, is the fence conducting? second, how much room is between fence and tree, and how clear of weeds is it?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:22AM
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rosieo(7 NC)

As a person who keeps chickens, I am sorry to tell you that chicken wire won't work. Raccoons have tough little hands and they can rip holes in chickenwire very easily.

We use hardware cloth rather than chicken wire to thwart coons. Electric works well too. Smear a little peanut butter on some foil and wrap it on the electric wire.

When Mr Coon grabs ahold of it you'll hear him high tailing it back to the woods at breakneck speed. Screaming like a little girl all the way. He won't be back and hopefully he'll tell all his friends.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 11:02AM
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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Sorry - but I'm just envisaging the 'rabbi epidemics' which Harvestman tells us occasionally hit the raccoon population. Childish, I know .....

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 1:24PM
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Har! you are all funny!
Poor doggy. Made me laugh out loud.
I also envisioned hasidic rabbi epidemics in an orchard....
I second that raccoons will shred chicken wire. My chickens agree as well.
I just got a water scarecrow to keep the pooping cats away. I kind of doubt it would deter a raccoon, tho.
There are electric fence kits that are a prepared unit that you unroll and set up. Sounds like a good idea.
Trapping and dispatching - maybe you can find someone who would like to buy the pelts.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 7:16PM
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Amazing people are willing to take an animals life over a a box of apples they could buy for $20.00 or less.

Are you sure it was raccooons that took "every single apple"? I have racoons in my yard all the time, they typically eat a little then move on to something else. My guess is if your apples all disappeared when they were perfect for picking it was a much larger pest........the two legged upright mammal type.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:05PM
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alan haigh

As a person whose dealt with many kinds of wildlife on many sites in an adversarial position for almost 50 years, I can tell you that animals that behave in one manner on one spot don't necessarily in another.

Squirrels jump higher one place than another and deer certainly browse higher. Some sites they learn to knock the high fruit off trees by bucking the trunks (the deer- not the squirrels).

I've seen chickens protected with a chicken wire fence successfully. I've also seen coons the size a medium size dog- bet if that animal is starving he will go through chicken wire- if he knows there's an available bowl of dog food nearby or an easy access garbage can, he might not bother.

I suspect any coon lusts more for chickens than apples. I know that they usually leave mine alone but always try to get the plums and peaches.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 5:44AM
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