Raccoons and Pond gardening

Discussion in 'Garden Pest Management and Identification' started by Sunshine Coast Gardener, Sep 16, 2004.

  1. Sunshine Coast Gardener

    Sunshine Coast Gardener Member

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    Location:
    sunshine coast
    We took advantage of the natural rock face at the front of our lot and added a small pond garden. We've thoroughly enjoyed it this summer: water lily bloom, water primula and the fish went forth and multiplied. A medium sized koi and many smaller ones who became so tame it was part of our day to walk past here and be greeted by them.

    Then, last weekend: the whole thing trashed. Bullrushes broken, bent and smashed. Plants all over the place. 3/4 fish gone.

    I did some internet searching and we implemented two things that seem to be working: a length of drainpipe in the bottom of the pond (refuge for the remaining fish who are so traumatized we rarely see them now) and two 150 watt motion-sensor spotlights. So far so good but I'm thinking the wildlife that did this might get used to the lights.

    Anyone experienced this? What worked/didn't?

    Rather than put net and chickenwire I would fill it in and plant a garden (yikes, unthinkable). All comments welcome! and thank you.

    p.s. does anyone know if a deer fence keeps the raccoons away? We're putting one up this week and plan to cover it with climbing roses.
     
  2. hungry hippo

    hungry hippo Active Member 10 Years

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    Hey Sunshine,

    Over the years I have tried just about everything to thwart the invasive damage of raccoons. I have tried electronic devices, traps, nets, trip wires, lights, chemicals, you name it and I've tried it. They are incredibly resourceful, fearless and intelligent creatures and unfortunately for you they seem to regard koi as about as desirable as we consider filet mignon. The only thing I have found that works is Haveahart brand traps. If you stategically locate a couple of these traps around your pond and bait them with bacon scraps, you will almost certainly trap the offending critters and then you can decide what you want to do with them. If you do decide to trap them, please bear in mind that they are some seriously badass creatures, and remain extremely dangerous even when trapped. I would suggest wearing thick leather gloves and eye protection when lifting an occupied trap, and then putting the trap in your trunk and taking a long drive before you turn the raccoon loose (and make it someone else's problem!), hopefully somewhere out in the woods. I know a lot of people are going to tell you this is inhumane and irresponsible (the raccoon might be married with children etc, blah, blah) but I reckon it is more humane than shooting them, which is the only other alternative that works. These traps are cheap and sturdy and they really do work. Hope this was helpful.

    ps. check out the view out of my bedroom window......
     

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  3. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    Deer fencing will not keep out raccoons (think "cat"). Out 6'6" 10 wire fence runs at 10,000 volts and the cats don't even seem to know it's there. The bottom wires are 5" apart and alternate live & ground; a good zap will give a noise like a cap gun. There are electrified mesh fence materials (Ferris Fencing in Qualicum) that will work. Trapping or shooting is an ongoing process - similar to mice in a rural home, there's lots more where that one came from! You may get a bit of a rest between critters, but it has to be the kind of rest where you sleep with one eye open (which is actually closer to a natural state than sound asleep in a comfy bed). See if any of your neighbors have chickens, and then check out their security arrangements.
    Be careful! These are strong, wild animals even with their Bambi eyes.
    Ralph
     
  4. re black eyed bandits !
    it has been my observation that the critters are attracted to the roe your fish lay on your plants, if you can protect (net) your plants at this time the fish will hatch and thrive. This then attracts the herons - ah but thereby hangs another tale !!
    good luck !!.
     
  5. Hello:

    A friend of mine from a country setting says she solved this problem by keeping ammonia in aluminum pie plates in strategic locations on her property. I'm trying a spay application of 50% ammonia and water. I'll let U know what the results are.
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Location:
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    If You Build It, They Will Come. Sizable fish don't live in every natural body of water, either, it has to be big and deep enough for their population to withstand depradation. Koi are sitting ducks in a small, shallow pool. One vendor near here has netting over the top of their outdoor fish pens, herons were coming and poking holes in the occupants. Likewise, a friend had some nice bass (I think) going in one of her ponds until a family of otters showed up and ate every one of them. This is a pretty big bit of water, as far as artificial, home garden variety ponds go, maybe something like 50' x 75', yet the otters cleaned it like a plate.
     
  7. Diane W.

    Diane W. Active Member

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    We had a fairly large deep pond with fish on a 1 acre lot in a heavily treed area backing on to a ravine. We lived there for 25 years and never had a problem with raccoons doing any damage to our garden except eating all the cherries off the cherry tree as soon as they were ripe.
    We have now moved to a more suburban area and have a small, very shallow (2ft.) pond with no fish. The raccoons have completely destroyed it - tearing holes in the liner, trampling plants and even moved the stones from the edge. They have stripped my tomato plants and use the roof of the garden shed as their toilet.
    I have not yet tried to do anything to deter them (we do have a motion detector light over a door near the pond but it obviously doesn't disturb them), as so many people say nothing works. Perhaps I should plant a cherry tree just for them!
    If anyone has tried something that works, please let me know.
     
  8. Diane W.

    Diane W. Active Member

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    Anyone have any answers yet, before my husband buys a shotgun!!
     
  9. Ralph Walton

    Ralph Walton Active Member 10 Years

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    Get a powerful portable spot light. You can hold it while he makes sure he is not shooting a neighbor's pet.

    Seriously, there doesn't seem to be much chance of discouraging them once they have discovered your pond/garden/chickens. Trapping is anything but a sure thing - they are very intellegent and quick learners. Trap & release has to be tempered by the "do unto others..." consideration.

    My new fencer runs to 13,000 volts and I've left one large pond unfenced, but if they make it thru into the gardens or the chickens I shoot or trap and shoot. With regret, but not as much regret as allowing them to wreck and kill freely. The footprints in the mud beside the other pond and elsewhere would indicate thet I'm only moderately successful, but we still have all our chickens except the one I witnessed being carried off by an eagle, and that's a whole other story.

    Ralph
     
  10. Puddleton

    Puddleton Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
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    I may be of some help.
    Most Australian Gardeners suffer under the presence of both ring tailed and brush tailed possums. (the latter is quite damaging). As they are native fauna (albeit in plague proportions), they are protected and it's big trouble if you are caught despatching them.
    We have tried electrickery and have experienced similiar dissapointing results.
    I had a giggle when I read Ralphs 13,000 volt response and wonder whether the local grid could cope with such a discharge. Ralphs approach of increasing the voltage is probably not necessary and could end him up in serious trouble, especially as we are all living in letigious societies.
    We have achieved results by not increasing the voltage but by increasing the amount of pulses created by the energiser. Possums like Racoons have quite thick fur and as such require a zap on the facial or toilet areas. Check out this link for a product available down under. I believe they selll world wide. Best success
    http://www.sureguard.com.au/index.shtml
     
  11. sue1

    sue1 Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
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    I've had problems with raccoons as well. There's not really much can be done, however, I feel I've come up with a solution (maybe..). I tracked carefully their habits in my garden, and found that they were more interested in my woodland garden which has a lot of wood chips that I put in it (I don't have ponds). So I made small deep piles of wood chips all over my property, hoping that eventually, when the wood chips started decomposing, they would dig there for their dinner (bugs, which they love). Within 6 months, they were digging in the little piles, and not touching anything else! I've found that they really do prefer to dig where food is easily obtainable, and the wood piles certainly are. I used to spray ammonia around my plants (very carefully of course!) which is an ongoing, time-consuming job as you have to spray every day or or so, and I really don't like roaming around my garden spraying ammonia everywhere, especially near the veggie garden! I hope others will try the wood method, and you're not really feeding the raccoons as such, as the wood bugs are their natural food anyway.

    Most tree loggers in rural areas are only too happy to get rid of their residentially logged tree waste. They will mulch up the branches and leaves and give the mulch away (yes, something for nothing in this day and age!). If not, a local pulp mill will often sell wood mulch for very little cost.

    Note: When I put in a new plant these days, I don't put mulch around it for a number of months, and I make sure the dirt around the plant if very firmly tamped down. I find the raccoons don't seem interested because it's not easily accessible. After a few months, I loosen up the soil a little, add compost and mulch and I've not a had a problem (touch wood...). The plant doesn't seem to suffer from lack of compost or mulch for a few months.

    Good luck,
     
  12. marshgirl

    marshgirl Member

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    Location:
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    I have two ponds and both are safe from too much damage by the raccoons. This is mostly because they are formal ponds without sloping sides. The other things that discourage my racoons are my dog, my 5 cats and a red shouldered hawk that loves to perch on the pergola and look for prey. One of my ponds is a converted formal grecian swimming pool with a spa (now a vegitative filter). With plenty of plant cover and depth, the worst the little bandits do is to toss a potted plant off it's shelf and into the center.

    Here in FL it is illegal to shoot these natives. I could trap them, but then it's also illegal here to release them anywhere but on private land. So I figured I was better off figuring out how to live with them. I like the solution from Sue1. I too have wood piles in the back half of the acre and I bet they prefer that as it's farther from the house and the dog. I've seen the cats chase a raccoon right up the tree!

    But seriously, I think the steep edges of both my ponds discourage them from much more than washing in them.

    Good luck!
    -Marshgirl
     
  13. RBB

    RBB Member

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    My Mother's Day present this year was a pond kit. I couldn't wait to put my water lilies into it. They have been thriving in large container-ponds for years but I knew just the spot to put the pond in the ground! Can you imagine my horror when the raccoons started playing in my pond? After several minor attacks, one evening they had a party and ripped everything in and around the pond to shreds! I was devastated.

    Now, late at night or early in the morning I hear the sound of a sprinkler going off and I smile and roll over and go back to sleep. I bought a motion-activated sprinkler and it works like a charm. I backed it up with a motion-activated ultrasonic device. The other night I looked out my bedroom window to see four very angry raccoons trying repeatedly to go play in my pond but they eventually gave up, climbed the fence, and went to annoy the neighbors dog!

    Good luck water gardeners! I hope you have the same success!
     
  14. Margitta

    Margitta Member

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    Location:
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    I have read all the responses and cannot believe that no one had the answer. Well here it is:

    Racoons don't like to go into a pond unless they know how to get back out of it. So when they are at the edge of the water they try to reach in and find bottom. If they find bottom, such as a ledge, rock, flower pot etc., they will go in and feast on your fish.

    If you don't like this, you have to build you pond with steep sides and there must be no ledges or rocks or plant pots that they can reach to climb in our out.

    It is that simple - I know - My husband and I have successfully ponded with a large Racoon family right near by.

    Good Luck - hope a lot of pond keepers read this - it is good advice.

    Margitta
     
  15. ginger749

    ginger749 Active Member

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    Here on the Gold Coast we HAVE heard rumours that YOU like ROSES.

    Is this true.
     
  16. sue1

    sue1 Active Member 10 Years

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    Nothing but an electric fence will keep raccoons out.
     
  17. robdevilcat

    robdevilcat Member

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    Location:
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    A few years back I lived in Orlando ,Fl .I built a cement pond/fountain....filled it with plants,rocks and koi. I basically tried everything under the sun to deter them.It actually became very interesting to watch their antics and ways to try to catch the koi. They would actually chase the fish around in circles until they caught them.Occasionally the would have everything removed from the pond and on the ground next to it.The only thing that worked for me was to trap them and relocate them to a more "natural" wooded environment.A FEW EXTRA WORDS OF WISDOM-IF YOU DON'T TAKE THEM FAR ENOUGH AWAY,THEY WILL RETURN!
     
  18. aangotti

    aangotti Member

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    Location:
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    We live near wooded areas. We have our koi pond and built a waterfall that is sheltered by VERY heavy rocks. The fish are social to us as long as we don't reach into the water. When we do, they seek shelter under the waterfall. We can barely lift the rocks ourselves. Rocky is a very smart critter. But his strength is nothing. We have had our pond for two years and have not had any problems. The fish enjoy their cave and they retreat there when threatened. I hope this helps!
     
  19. gerryggg

    gerryggg Member

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    We have done some research lately as we originally had problems with raccoons trying to get into our attic before they started clearing out our fish pond. It is illegal to trap and relocate raccoons in Florida unless you have permission of the owner of the property you relocate them to. If you trap them you may "dispose of them humanely." We were told this included drowning, poisoning, or shooting them!! It is not illegal to shoot them as long as you do it with an air or co2 powered gun or bow and arrow. You may not discharge a firearm within any municipal city limits. Our raccoons are so bold when I chased one off my roof I actually had to hit him twice with a broom handle to get him to leave. Unfortunately I didn't have my pellet pistol yet or I would have been able to take him out then. When they moved into the attic of a neighbor's house down the street I thought they were gone. No such luck.
     
  20. Gardenlover

    Gardenlover Active Member

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    Location:
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    I have trapped raccoons and I have the same fear each time...
    Is there a way of the raccon scratching my hand as I lift his cage?
    They are jumping furiously inside. The cage is from a pest disposal outlet so it is the real deal.
     
  21. gerryggg

    gerryggg Member

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    Wear gloves while handling the cage. BTW, what did you use for bait? I had bacon in mine for two days and they didn't touch it. I put a can of cat food in and they tripped the door, then tipped the cage and cleaned out the can through the mesh.
     
  22. Gardenlover

    Gardenlover Active Member

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    Location:
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    I use herring, sardines or tuna. They will go crazy for fish. Yeah, they do that sometimes show up some days then not come the next...
    they will come, be patient and put some nice bait out.
     
  23. gerryggg

    gerryggg Member

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    He's actually out there right now, prowling around. He's tripped my flood light twice, the second time I actually saw him by the pond, but he wouldn't quite go to the trap. I have some new cat food in there and it's not in the can this time, but right on the trip plate. Also I backed the trap up to some Hibiscus fronds so he can't really get to it except through the front. Hopefully I'll get at least one tonight. I know there are at least two as I've seen them together at the pond as recently as early Sunday morning.
     
  24. Gardenlover

    Gardenlover Active Member

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    Put the food at the very end of the cage, PAST the trip plate. B.t.w.
    when you catch him, get him out of there fast!
    the raccoon will **** and piss on that spot and make it disgusting. Keep away from your vegetable gardens they have so many diseases.
     
  25. Creeping Jenny

    Creeping Jenny Active Member

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    My Shar-pei seems to be doing the trick in my backyard. A raccoon came by yesterday, creeping around my garden (and in broad daylight... the nerve! LOL) He saw Otis running towards him and he took off pretty darn fast!
     

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