What to do about killer racoons?

rabid_raccoon.jpgDon’t read this if you’re an easily-upset type.

I’m not kidding.

I think I’ve mentioned it before, I have raccoons in my yard. The block on which I live has several groves of eucalyptus and “wild, untamed” Valley floor. I live in a tiny house in the center of the block, off the street. It’s like being in the middle of the woods, right in the center of suburbia. This mini-habitat supports hawks, owls, way too many squirrels that eat my hibiscus flowers, opossum, feral cats and, yes, a number of raccoons. At least three, in fact, one of them very large. I thought this was charming.

Until I woke last night at 5am to a terrible sound.
I am not going into the details of what I discovered outside, or how I wish I’d only woken five minutes sooner, or how I had to call my father, who lives next door, because the kitten (more of a juvenile cat, one I’d never seen before) was too, too horrifically hurt to even transport to a pet emergency room. It was macabre. I have never had to kill an animal to be humane before. Neither my father or I were able to get back to sleep.

When I came upon the terrible tableau the first thing I saw was the giant raccoon, which stood on its hind legs and stared, confrontational, at me, coming up a little over 2 feet tall (and me at five feel tall) . Then it hopped to the top of the fence and clambered away, leaving the kitten behind.

My maternal instincts are roused and raging in protection of the little brood of cats that call my block home. Several of them have basically become my pets, even though (to their chagrin) I can’t let them inside (I’m allergic). If…that…happened to any of the little creatures I’ve come to love and care for and pet (immediately washing my hands afterwards, or I end up with a fit of the sneezles) and talk to every day (please no comment about how I’ve become a crazy blue-haired cat lady) I would take off after that raccoon myself and burn down every tree on this block until I got my hands on it.

It was that bad.

I am a compassionate person. I do not like killing, not even black widow spiders. I coax ants out of my house by watering nearby plants so they’ll look for water outside (which actually works, BTW). But what I saw at 5am this morning, and what my father and I had to do, roused my very first impulse to buy a BB gun.

This is not the first time the raccoon has confronted me. I’ve had two occasions now where I’ve stood on my front step with it about six feet away, on its hind legs, glaring at me, making funny raccoon growling noises in its throat. I stood up tall and raised my arms and told it to get the fuck away from my cats, who were standing huddled on the stoop behind me. If I accidentally came upon it in the dark or startled it, I would not be surprised if it attacked me. It has attacked my parents’ dog next door–the dog I rescued as a puppy & brought to them–slashing his snout, sending him to the pet emergency room for stitches.

I do not want to kill this creature, but I can’t risk this happening again.

I called the SPCA and they said the county policy is to euthanize any wild animal caught in an urban context.

My family does have an old, large raccoon trap that we used decades ago to remove another problem raccoon from the yard. I was a child, so I don’t know what became of it, if my dad took it to the hills or if he took it to Animal Control.

And of course I know if I actually *did* shoot this creature with a BB gun, whether killing or–even more horrible–NOT killing it–I would be as devastated as I am now. Fearsome, yes, and deadly, apparently; but it’s an amazing, formidable and impressive creature. It is so amazing. I cannot fathom killing it.

Does anyone know of any solutions or organizations that help with these sorts of problems?

14 Replies to “What to do about killer racoons?”

  1. Wow your animal control folks are brutal. Ours just take into the hills and releases. Maybe you could ask animal control for a catch and release cage them let him loose yourself in the mountains away from town?

    That said there isn’t much you can do with a racoon. Tighten down the food sources so they can’t get into it will send them elsewhere.

    When I was a kid my mom would put food out for the racoons and take pictures. Our cat didn’t like it and chased him out. I’d suggest a big angry alley cat as the answer as your kitties seem to be the nice house type.

    FYI…just shooting to scare off the racoon could get you in trouble if someone saw you and reported you for animal cruelty.

  2. if that raccoon is rabid, you would be doing everyone a disservice by not calling animal control. or what if an unsuspecting person or kid stumbled upon it? i think in this situation you should assume the worst and call animal control (and a bb gun probably wouldn’t kill it, unless you are a crack shot. and honestly, that blood on your hands probably would indeed upset you greatly.)

  3. Good point Mr Oliver regarding the rabies. Something I forget about since I don’t have pets and need to worry about that shot for them any more.

  4. Raccoons are often disregarded for their absolute badassedness until they demonstrate it, as in the tragedy you encountered.

    Rabidity or distemper should always be a concern, but from your encounter it doesn’t seem as if this creature has done anything to demonstrate illness. Not running away could be a sign, but it could also just be its habituation to humans. Sadly for the cat involved and for you and your father and for any other strays in the neighborhood it seems the raccoon is just being a raccoon and either exploiting the available food supply (be it kitten or kibble) or perhaps defending nearby offspring.

    It may not be the answer you’re looking for but the best way to prevent that from happening again is to round up your brood of cats and either attempt to find homes for them or take them to a shelter. It might also be prudent to print out the list found here and distribute it to your immediate neighbors.

    The city’s animal services department has this page

    Good luck.

  5. yeah… I had a raccoon problem earlier I wrote about when two raccoons took up residence under my house and started going at it. I tried to trap them myself, but that didn’t work. Finally, I sealed up all the entry points late at night when they were out and that did the trick. They were unbelievably noisy. Didn’t know they had a thing for cats. Good to know. Yikes.

  6. My cats’ veterinarian recently said that there aren’t currently any rabies strains in raccoons in the L.A. area, only in some of the local bats.

    OSH and/or Home Depot sell powdered coyote urine products that are supposed to keep raccoons away (but may also repel the cats, etc.). I don’t know if such products might attract coyotes or make the other animals lose their protective fear of a coyote’s scent.

  7. That’s nature. But go to Big5 and you can get a fully automatic BB gun,
    and go “Mental” on the critter.

  8. Animals – you got a problem w/someone in your territory? Flight or Fight.
    Humans – you got a problem w/someone in your territory? Blog.

    It reminds me of that scene at the beginning of Blue Velvet with the idyllic household & the guy watering the lawn, only to go microscopic into the insects throwing down.

  9. I love cats. But, I think this is a case of nature taking care of it itself. If you’re going to call the animal control to deal with a wild raccoon, they should take care of the feral cats as well.

  10. The racoon just killed it because he could. Not for food, and not to protect his/her young, but just because it didn’t get out of his/her way fast enough. They’re that territorial.

    And, no, your bb gun won’t do it any harm. It might just piss it off.

  11. I feel bad that you had to witness what happen to the kitten, and I especially feel bad about what happened to that poor cat. Are your feral cats spayed and neutered? An un-neutered male is also very territorial, and can also kill the younger male kittens. I don’t know what kind of situation you have there with the cats you feed, but you can get a Havaheart trap and trap the cats to get them fixed at a low-cost clinic, in addition to trapping the killer raccoon. You could consider having your dad help you build a cat run to protect your cats from any predators. Just a thought, and good luck. http://www.latimes.com/features/home/la-hm-cat5-2008jun05,0,6090177.story

  12. Okay, I JUST met two of them in my backyard after hearing my dog bark and getting up to investigate. My dog is 16 and he never barks (and when he does I imagine little dust clouds escaping from between his lips). Anyways, after scaring them a way, I preformed a little trick my grandpa taught to keep the wild animals at bay (this is embarrassing, but I think it works!): I peed in a corner in the backyard. Try it! Sometimes the smell of a human is enough to keep the critters away, think of it as marking your territory.

  13. Mabe I can help. I stumbled upon these coments and figured I would add my own.There are orginizations which offer free help for wild animals. Project wildlife in san diego is one Ive become most familiar with. They can answer any wildlife questions- give advice- even rescue and rehab orphans.
    The humane society will help with domestic animals, but not wild animals.
    I will answer any wild animal questions you may have and Ill come back here when ever Im not on a call. My company is called Anytime Animal Control. And we service all of southern california. Most times the animal is removed and let go, however dangerous animals are put down(such as a large pack of coyotes) You can always visit my site anytimeanimalcontrol.com for more info.

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