Raccoons digging up my garden

Discussion in 'Outdoor Gardening in the Pacific Northwest' started by Margot, Nov 1, 2019.

  1. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    Raccoons are making a big mess digging up my garden in areas where I've worked the soil by planting something this past season and I hope to find a way to deter them. I don't know what they're going after because we don't have the European Chafer Beetle here and I seldom see other grubs . . . not many earthworms either for that matter. Other than covering the garden with wire, is there a spray or mothballs that would work? I've never had this problem before.
     

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  2. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    I am easily riled in this topic because I live in a neighbourhood other side of Salish Sea fr you where raccoons have for at least 3 decades been a dangerous nuisance

    Other morning broad daylight busy road the gang is attacking the usual garbage bin set out the night before

    They use my lawn at current house - and at previous house - as a toilet w feces that potentially have dangerous disease (aside fr the usual repulsive détails

    They attack cats and dogs in our n’hood - luckily the pets survived with expensive vet care - not vet fault but simply the care required adds up $

    I used to leave a rain bucket under a dripping eave and they used that nightly (can see footprints in dew) ... so no more rain collection for me

    I have a beeping device off Amazon but I don’t know if it works - i will see if I can find brand name

    I have tried that motion sprinkler alert scare device (I gave it away )

    I do not leave household garbage out

    No pet food out (and no pet door)

    No bird feeder (due to bears and raccoons and rats)

    No fruit trees / shrubs

    No garden shed

    ——-

    I am sure there are those who think they are cute but I find them a hazard on many fronts

    Thankfully they have not found any way to get in our house attic or crawl space because that is one heck of a stench and mess. HazMat plus! So first make sure you have hardware cloth wire mesh covering all gaps before they decide your shed / attic etc looks cozy and like a baby nursery

    And be very careful of your pets — your dog of any size may seem like a handy défense team member with built-in bark and chase but raccoons will take off after a dog and cause terrible physical and emotional trauma — one here recently

    I think we have neighbor humans who intentionally feed them

    So that’s not very helpful is it.
     
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  3. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    The human health hazard is racoon roundworm and the WA Department of Health says all local raccoons should be considered to be infested. While asymptomatic in raccoons and dogs the parasite is fatal to humans, where it migrates to the brain and tunnels in it. So it seems to me numbers of pet dogs that are not being monitored or routinely treated for worms could also be sources of infection of humans. Including via their poo. (The worm eggs remain viable and on top of the involved surface for years after the raccoon poo disappears, with inhalation a significant risk factor).

    With all that said the number of known human cases in the US each year is quite small. With most of those being forest workers and children.
     
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  4. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    Thank you Ron for clarifying - it’s very serious.

    Margot - here is a screen shot of the scare device I bought off Cdn Amazon ... it operates on big batteries but ideally one can plug in (it offers that option)

    Worth reading the item description etc

    I think the priority is not letting them get used to your place and comfy with the idea of setting up shop in a shed or crawl space or attic

    Take away all the fun stuff like water feature (rain buckets) - if you have pond then cage it over

    Bird feeders

    Fruit trees etc

    Garbage and compost (I put hardware cloth UNDER my compost so nobody could dig under and also I hammered a couple big long pieces of rebar rod in to the collection area of bin so that it is hard to tip over ). The lid has a big brick but a bear can move that easily

    Here is screen shot of device that might interest you - I have no interest $ in Amazon or this device company .
     

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  5. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    Many thanks to Georgia Strait and Ron B for your information and advice. Although I do not have the attractants GS has mentioned in my own garden, nor do most of the nearby neighbours, the raccoon population seems to be growing. I had heard that someone was keeping their numbers in check but it's difficult for individual homeowners to do so legally. The alarming facts Ron shared makes it clear that the cosmetic damage raccoons cause is the least of our problems.
     
  6. vitog

    vitog Contributor 10 Years

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    I'm not aware of any sprays or chemicals that will deter racoons. However, as I've mentioned previously, an electric fence has been 100% effective at keeping racoons away from my grape vines. I just recently took the fence down after harvesting all of my grapes.
     
  7. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    Congratulations Vitog on successfully harvesting all your grapes! When we moved into this place, the former owners had electrified individual apple trees but left the grapes to their mercy. Charlie shared a story of how, one year, he planned to pick 100 clusters of grapes on a certain day and was horrified to go out that morning and find 100 little pyramids of grapes skins all along the ground under the vine. Likewise, on the day before we were to go pick the apples on a particular tree, we woke to find them all gone. Are raccoons mind readers? Given our ongoing challenges with raccoons, we have taken out all the apple trees and grape vines.
     
  8. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    So, they put the skins from every cluster into a separate pyramid? What a great story!
     
  9. Sundrop

    Sundrop Well-Known Member

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    BTW, who is Charlie?
     
  10. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    Sorry - Charlie was the previous owner here; almost 90 when he sold us the place and so sad to leave.
     
  11. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    I wonder if you have any photos or further info re this electrical set-up in your backyard vineyard ---- I am very accustomed to livestock fencing (yellow tape style fence on plastic posts (or wood) connected to the electrical set-up in the barn shelter).

    of course nobody wants to harm wildlife - just keep them separate from our area of the lot and off my deck and porch --- I saw little raccoon footprints in the frost-dew on our sundeck this morning --- it is high up and gated yet they scale over a glass and metal railing like nothing to peek in our windows. Beasts. (that said - I think it's because humans have hand fed them)
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2019
  12. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    A garden friend who lives a few km away shared this story when I complained to him about the damage raccoons are doing in my garden . . .

    Yes, they are filthy, disgusting creatures that sleep where they defecate. I am aware of the roundworm but that is just one reason I don't want them on our property. Two years ago one was eating hazelnuts up in the tree when I caught it in the beam of my headlamp. I started to shake the tree and the beast ran down the tree and leaped at my face. Fortunately I batted it aside but it did snap at my face and actually broke the skin on my lip with its teeth. Yeah, it is an all out war with them over here. I just bought a portable motion sensor light that I have set out for them but now that all the 'candy' is gone from our yard they have moved off somewhere. Same with the grey hoards from the east (squirrels)...
     
  13. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    I’ve had my hair combed by an owl at my family ponderosa ranch in Okanagan ... in daylight ... so I can’t imagine a raccoon on my face - I think at this point Margot I would be asking your regional district (county) or whatever term you use for local govt in your area what they are doing for these matters of urban wildlife interaction and disease concerns. We love wildlife and the owl incident was a fluke on a vast acreage back in the day - but as we humans move out in to interface suburbia - as allowed by the planning - then fire and wildlife care are important topics.

    Wow - all you had was a little dug spot on your flower bed and I have morphed it in to regional planning ;)
     
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  14. vitog

    vitog Contributor 10 Years

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    Georgia Strait, I can't take any photos of the electric fence setup because I've taken it down; but it is a rather simple arrangement enclosing the south side of my house, including two levels of deck and the grape vines they support. I use wooden stakes each with nails spaced roughly 6 inches apart and hammered into the ground so that the lowest nail is about 6 inches above ground level. The electrified wires run horizontally back and forth on the four levels of nails, looped around each nail. The charger for the fence is mounted in the garage and is powered from an AC outlet through a timer.
     
  15. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    Question - is it the yellow tape type of wire?
     
  16. vitog

    vitog Contributor 10 Years

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    No, the wire is twisted and multi-stranded with some tinned copper strands mixed with orange plastic strands. It's easy to fix breaks in the wire; just tie them back together using a square knot.
     
  17. Georgia Strait

    Georgia Strait Generous Contributor

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    Margot OP - Those esp me with years of hassle w these messy raccoons are wondering where you are at on this remediation! Is there hope?!
     
  18. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    For now I'm just gritting my teeth and hoping that this may be a one-year phenomenon as it's the first time in 13 years we've had such a problem.

    Since the only places raccoons are tearing things up are where I've been digging to remove plants or put in new plants, I think I'll add physical barriers such as rebar or wire or large rocks to protect the ground until the new plants are established. Raccoons are so strong though that it may be a waste of time.
    Thanks for asking.
     
  19. vitog

    vitog Contributor 10 Years

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    If the problem is raccoons digging into the soil, and the area isn't too large, I've found that just laying some old chicken wire on top of the soil prevents it. I've used that solution where kitchen waste has been buried in the garden. I often add a few large rocks on top to hold the wire in place. In my case, this activity is usually limited to a small area or a few small areas and doesn't require a lot of wire.
     
  20. Margot

    Margot Renowned Contributor 10 Years

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    Yes, that's exactly what I have in mind so I'm happy to hear it might work. The wire would be ugly short term but hopefully could be removed when the need for it expires. You're right that the damage is limited to small areas - about 6 areas, each about 1+ square meters.
     
  21. pmurphy

    pmurphy Contributor 10 Years

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    I'm not sure wire would work. Years ago I used to have a small pond with 8 koi when I lived in Coquitlam. One morning I noticed a half eaten fish in the garden and asked my mother if I could borrow some of her electric fencing to surround the pond. I wrapped one strand, about 4" off the ground, all the way around and then a second strand about 6" above that. A couple of days later there was another half eaten koi so to make sure the fence was working so I touched it - it was. The next morning I looked out the window to see a raccoon standing by the edge of the pond with one strand of the wire under its belly and the other over its back. It also had both front paws in the water holding a dead koi. I remember it looking at me and then started calmly eating the koi! It was not afraid of me and the electric fencing didn't phase it one bit. In less than a week it had managed to eat about $400 worth of koi - I left the pond empty and eventually drain it because it kept pulling out the plants.

    But might I suggest laying down either some chicken wire or suspending netting a couple of inches off the ground. When the chafer beetles started here in Vancouver I noticed a lot of torn up lawns - due to raccoons and birds - so what we did was buy the cheap $ store plant nets and spread them over our lawn. We attached them to stakes so they were raised a couple of inches above the lawn. We had no problems with either crows or raccoon as they appeared not to want to step on this soft surface.
     

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