While they may look like cute little bandits, there’s little cute about raccoons. You’ll find these crafty, opportunistic, and resourceful creatures across a wide range of terrains. They are easily at home in urban, rural, and wilderness settings. They’ll also make their home in some surprising places like rock crevices, sewers, and under or in buildings, and they can run, swim, climb, and dig with ease.
Raccoons also eat a variety of foods from what they find through natural foraging to human food waste. These features make raccoons some of the hardiest and versatile animals.
Most peculiar though is the raccoon’s ‘fingers’ that have a thumb-like digit. This ‘thumb’ is what helps raccoons grasp, twist, tear, and pull a variety of objects. That’s why people in raccoon-heavy areas must strap their trashcan lids down!
While we might not see them as often as we should, raccoons are common in New York State. There are 20-40 raccoons per square miles in rural New York state, but 100 per square mile in some developed areas like Long Island.
Are raccoons a protected species
Yes. Raccoons are wild animals and so, by law, no one can own or possess one without a license. Licenses, however, are not issued for wildlife intended to be kept as pets. You also need a license to trap or hunt raccoons.
The only exception is that farmers and homeowners can destroy raccoons if they cause damage to property. The unlicensed farmer or homeowner must try to deter the raccoon before taking these measures.
This is where WNY Wildlife & Exclusion can help you.
At WNY Wildlife & Exclusion, you’ll find New York State licensed nuisance wildlife control persons who can safely and humanely trap and remove raccoons. If the raccoon is in need of further care, they will help connect the raccoon with a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.
WNY Wildlife & Exclusion takes the trap and release approach. This means that we use cage or box traps to trap a raccoon, then we release them nearby so that they’re still in familiar territory, but far enough away to not return to your location. Our approach is safe for both people and the raccoons, and we don’t use chemicals like some of our competitors do.
What to do about raccoons
If you find raccoons in your area, follow these steps to keep you and the raccoons safe.
- Do not feed them. Whether you intentionally leave food out for them or accidentally give them easy access to human food waste, make sure that you’re not feeding them. Pay attention to what’s in your garden too, as vegetables and compost can also attract raccoons.
- Don’t approach them. Raccoons will defend themselves when threatened, and they have some serious teeth and claws. If bitten or scratched, clean the wound and contact your doctor or an emergency facility as soon as possible. Raccoons carry rabies which can be fatal in humans. If you are injured, report the encounter to 311.
- Vaccinate your pets. Your pets are at risk for rabies too, and other diseases that raccoons carry like canine distemper.
- Report a sighting. When you report a sighting, it helps people prevent overpopulation and added problems caused by raccoons. You can report a sighting here.
- Call a professional. Because of the nature of raccoons and the laws protecting them, it’s best to call a licensed professional to help you catch and release problem raccoons.
For more information on raccoons and how to safely deal with problematic ones, contact WNY Wildlife & Exclusion today. You can reach us at (716) 203-1166 or use our contact form below.