Raccoons: what to do with them

creekweb(6,7)July 24, 2012

Raccoons have been causing a good deal of damage in my orchard this year, breaking limbs and taking fruit with the potential to cause a great deal more in the coming months. So last night I set a trap and this morning see that there is a raccoon in it. My local government has for years provided a service of removing wild animals caught in traps, but when I called this morning I was informed that they have discontinued this service as they have discovered that trapping and releasing wild animals is illegal! All this time I had assumed they were euthanizing the animals, but in truth they were releasing them locally, probably only to have them back in the orchard by nightfall. So after my initial regret, I am glad they stopped this "service", but I am left with the problem of what to do with the raccoons I trap.

I could call a pest service, but this would become costly in the long run. I do not own firearms and do not intend to purchase any. I reject the idea of drowning the animals.

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Unless you can find a neighbor with a gun who also wants to eliminate raccoons, seems to me you've boxed yourself out of options.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 11:23AM
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Wildlife biologists have long been opposed to 'relocation' of 'problem' wildlife - especially non-endangered/non-threatened species. And, as you've indicated, in some states, it is (properly, I might add) ILLEGAL to do so.

Since you've placed limits upon your own ability to deal with it, ltilton is on target - find a neighbor or acquaintance who has the wherewithall to dispatch the varmint - and hopefully, someone will utilize the meat - fruit-fed raccoon (and squirrel, groundhog, deer, etc.) is quite tasty and healthful.
I prefer barbecued raccoon, but offer a more genteel recipe below:

Cranberry Raccoon:

21/2 to 3 lbs of Raccoon pieces (remove fat deposits)
1 cup of finely chopped cranberries
1 cup apple cider
1/4 cup honey
pinch of grated orange peel
a tad of salt
1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon of nutmeg

Slow-cook the raccoon in a crock pot for 7-8 hrs; then add other ingredients and cook for an additional 4-5 hours...enjoy...

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 12:00PM
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Release them farther out. A freeway or river are good enough barriers. I usually release them by an isolated foreclosed home, on the other side of the freeway. A decent alternative is to eat them, but it is a lot of work to clean a raccoon.

They are looking for some moisture from the fruits. You can also set up a place, out of the orchard, where they can drink. They do not particularly like fruits if they can get grubs or other better food.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 12:03PM
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Unfortunately, so many of us, over the past 50 years, have been Disney-fied to the point of envisioning all wildlife as warm fuzzy creatures who get along with one another in perfect harmony - with the exception of the horrible old humans, that is...
Below is a concise discussion on why it is unwise to 'relocated' nuisance wildlife pests.

"It's a popular myth that the animal that is a nuisance on your property can simply be "relocated." It sounds easy enough and one would think that it might be the best for property owner and nuisance animal.
However, it's rare that relocated animals have a good chance of survival, and moving them may even affect the survival of animals in their new "home."

Relocation can be stressful to wild animals. They may experience elevated heart rates and breathing rates, high blood pressure, acute changes in blood chemistry and depressed appetites. These factors in turn may make them more vulnerable to disease or predation.
Relocated animals have no prior experience with their new homes which immediately puts them at a disadvantage in finding food and shelter. Most animals that cause problems are common and widespread, such as squirrels, groundhogs, and raccoon. That means that almost all areas that could be places to relocate nuisance animals already have established populations of those animals.
Animals released in a new territory lack the local knowledge to fit in with existing animal hierarchies. They risk fights with resident animals and exclusion from feeding areas and den sites - or displacement of the established, resident population.
A relocation site may not have all the basic needs for the animal to site. Although the site may look suitable to us, it may lack proper food or shelter.
Releasing animals may help spread disease. Just as we humans spread disease among our populations by traveling, animals can bring diseases into new areas when they are relocated, thus impacting the resident animal populations.

The combination of the previous factors often cause animals to leave the release area. The animal may aimlessly wander for miles, and is accountable for high mortality in released animals. (Yep; that freeway may be a deadly barrier!)

In summary, relocation sounds appealing, but it is tough on the transported animals and can have negative impacts on the animal populations where they are released." - FL Div. of Fish & Wildlife

Additionally, you may just be dumping your problem on someone else. Just because you don't see an orchard right on the side of the highway where you 'release' your problem 'coon or squirrel - doesn't mean that someone just out of your line of sight hasn't been fighting the local 'coon/squirrel populations for a chance at the fruit they've been laboring to grow.

Trap. Terminate. Eat.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 12:36PM
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All this talk of eating - most people aren't going to dress and cook raccoons. Coons aren't small animals. You've got 30-40# of dead meat to dispose of. It'll rot, it'll smell.
Takes a pretty big hole to bury even one.

You need a concrete plan to deal with this problem before you start trapping.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 1:15PM
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Racoon stew is another option. There used to be a small market for coon skins. Maybe there are still people who would be interested. Try and find someone who may purchase coon pelts and just give it away. Ask around at local hunting club or firearms dealers. I guess I should say its been a good number of years since I had any dealings with selling coon skins so check if its legal or not.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 1:53PM
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Well I did have a concrete plan - the municipal government would dispose of them as they have for the past 20 years. If you mean that I should have first checked to see if they were still providing the service when they have for each of the past 20 years, I would say that's playing Monday morning quarterback or at least advocating anality well beyond what's healthy.

Lucky, I like the idea of turning them into a food source, but the problem is that in these parts, rabies is endemic in the raccoon population and some ridiculously high percentage of them are infected. I don't know that anyone's ever been infected with rabies from a raccoon, but people around here won't go near them and they'd just as soon eat a rat as a raccoon.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 2:09PM
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I simply shoot any pests I trap, but I do have the gun and I do have plenty of space in which to dispose of the dead animals. I don't have to bury them because I can put them out in a far corner of my property and let nature take its course. I do have a friend who lives in town and has been trapping groundhogs. He can't shoot them in town, so he puts the trap in a large plastic bag and runs a hose to the bag from the tailpipe of his car. It apparently doesn't take long for the carbon monoxide to kill the animal, and I guess that is a relatively humane way to do them in. I don't know if he buries the bodies in his yard or bags them and puts them in the trash. It might not be legal to dispose of a larger dead animal in the trash in some locales.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 2:25PM
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I hesitate to leave large items of carrion nearby. Aside from the smell, I fear it will attract coyotes to come by more often for the free lunch. As I have going-outdoor cats, this becomes worrisome.

Of course, it's the cats supplying the carrion.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 2:34PM
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alan haigh

I suggest you purchase a 1,000 FPS pellet gun. Such a high powered model can send a pellet through a trapped coons scull into its brain reliably if you aim a bit above the eyes. A death shot sends the animal into convulsions immediately and death will come in seconds and with much more mercy than in its usual forms.

It only takes a couple minutes in most soils to adequately bury the carcass. Just don't do it in sight of neighbors as these issues are poorly understood by people who buy all their food.

Transporting animals is usually illegal without a license and you risk spreading disease such as rabies.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 2:47PM
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Carbon monoxide is an interesting idea and when used with filtering and cooling may be a relatively humane way to dispatch the animals. This link discusses CO use in euthanizing cats and dogs:

Here is a link that might be useful: CO euthanasia

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 3:23PM
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A 22bullet in the brain is the most humane and the quickest but since you state yyou will not buy a gun. Options
take to vet and pay for leathal injection
find some way to kill it
turn is loose and raise coon food in your orchard

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 6:34PM
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I don't think many vets will go along with such a plan.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 7:42PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

You can hold him, I'll give the injection!!

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 8:44PM
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franktank232(z5 WI)

I know a guy who eats bear....this should be right up his alley.

I'm guessing right now they don't have a nice winter coat. Raccoons use to be worth $25+ many years ago. I use to work for a fur company. I once had to put muskrat furs in a dryer.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2012 at 10:10PM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

We live on six acres and most of it is native woodland, so we have plenty of wildlife which we are content, in most cases to live with. A few months ago something killed a deer by our entrance gate. Within 24 hours nothing was left but a few bones. The sight of ten buzzards at once tearing up a deer carcass is pretty impressive. The next morning the ants were the only cleaning crew still working. Nature has a way of taking care of itself, with or without us. Al

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 9:27AM
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bennylafleur(6 E. Tn.)

Although I am surrounded by Cherokee National Forest, I had not seen a coon in several years, until my dog found one today. I popped it in the head with my 32-20, and tossed it in the creek to be on it's way.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 9:48AM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

I think a very humane and practical way to destroy trapped animals is to render them unconscious and then drown them.

You can do this by placing the trap (with the trapped animal) in a large trash bag (a trash barrel with a lid would work) then spray a generous portion of ether-based starting fluid into the trash bag and close it up (Ether was used effectively as a general anesthetic before the advent of sodium pentathol.) It takes about 1 to 2 minutes before the animal is unconscious. Then you can put the animal in a barrel (or trash can) full of water.

I used to euthanize squirrels this way. Eventually I started simply drowning them without the anesthesia because there was so many. Without anesthetic, they drown in less than one minute. I shoot coons and possums in the head with a pellet gun, but I don't see why the ether/drowning method wouldn't work for them if you didn't want to shoot them.

I'd be reluctant to try the CO method with car exhaust. Modern catalytic converters remove almost all of the CO, so animal death would probably result from lack of oxygen (CO2) vs. carbon monoxide (CO). My understanding is that high concentrations of CO2 produce a panic effect in animals and humans so it's probably not any better than drowning.

We have a very large squirrel population here because it's a fairly rural area, yet close enough to the city that people dump their trapped squirrels out here. Dumping nuisance wildlife on others is not a good idea even if there are no fruit growers in the area. A lot of people grow vegetable gardens and coons, possums and squirrels steal sweet corn and other garden crops.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 1:04PM
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Yes the CO they recommend comes from a motor without a catalytic converter running a fuel rich mixture. The fumes from there would be full of irritants though and would need to be filtered. CO2 is sometimes recommended as a euthanizing agent but it appears to depend upon the species and there's not a lot of information about raccoons.

Thanks, Olpea, the use of ether sounds like a more efficient and reasonably humane method. I would wonder whether the drowning part is necessary as I would think ether should work on its own as a euthanizing agent.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 2:41PM
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olpea(zone 6 KS)

I'm not sure how well ether would work as a euthanizing agent itself. I am aware that too much ether can cause death. But practically speaking, I don't know how long it takes or how many cans of starting fluid you would go through to euthanize the animal. Toxicology information indicates respiratory arrest occurs at 128,000 ppm in rats, but it doesn't say how long it takes.

I once used ether to perform castration on a household pet of ours, and I was concerned about an overdose of ether at that point so I worked quickly, but I've never tried to euthanize an animal with ether.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2012 at 9:50PM
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First of all do you have a dog? Although well meaning people dump all kinds of critters near the end of my driveway (I am way out on a dirt road), raccoons are one animal I never see on my property, even though there are many in the area. My Golden Retriever is hardly a hunter, but the smell she leaves around my property seems to be a pretty good deterrent to many creatures including raccoons, foxes, rabbits, wolves and coyotes. I just wish she was a deterrent to squirrels and chipmunks, as I get way too many of those.

And please don't relocate pests to become someone else's problem.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 2:05PM
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