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Raccoons Are Here, There, and Everywhere
By Laura Warren
Have you looked out your window lately, walked your dog or checked your garbage? Raccoons are all over town looking for their next meal.
Frequently, I see medium size raccoons wandering around my house searching for “goodies.” Raccoons are omnivorous and will eat just about anything including, insects, plants, amphibians, fish, fruits, seeds, trash, and nuts. These nocturnal mammals usually hunt for chow in the late afternoon or evening and are generally shy and looking for dinner and meals for their babies or “kits.” But at the same time, if they are cornered or scared, they will protect themselves and their babies.
According to the West Sound Wildlife Shelter, there is no reason to fear, kill, or injure raccoons. “There are alternate ways to discourage raccoons and get them to relocate.”
Chris Anderson, Wildlife Biologist with the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife agrees. “Their presence is not a large issue. The raccoons you see are individuals with learned and unnatural behavior.” Anderson says people should not feed the mammals and let them hunt for food naturally.
Anderson also states, “It is against Washington state law to trap, move or relocate raccoons. Only trained and hired trappers can trap the mammals.”
Yes, raccoons are known to carry rabies, but according to Anderson, there have been no raccoons found in the state of Washington with rabies. Raccoons do carry roundworm, which other animals, including pets, can catch if they eat raccoon feces.
Chris Anderson suggests visiting the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website for more information and preventive measures, http://wdfw.wa.gov/ or 360-902-2200.
To protect your family, pets and home consider these ideas. If you see a raccoon make loud noises, flash them with lights and keep your gardens fenced and covered. And remember to restrict any access to human and pet food, trash cans and always keep your garage doors closed.
A medium size raccoon is anywhere from eight to 20 pounds and 16 to 28 inches long. And don’t forget the bushy tail, which is another eight to 16 inches. These mammals also make a variety of noise including purrs, whimpers, snarls, hisses and growls.
Female raccoons have a gestation period of about 65 days and have two to five kits born in the spring. Mama raccoons feed and raise babies until the late fall. Raccoon mothers are among the best wild animal parents, and are extremely dedicated to and protective of their babies.
Baby raccoons do play outside the den when their mother is out looking for food. If a female has denned in an area and you want her to move, there are ways of persuading her to do that. Trapping is not the best option, since this separates the mother from her babies and permanently breaks up a family. If you would like ideas for how to get a family to move, please call West Sound Wildlife at 206.855.9057.
Raccoons don’t hibernate like other mammals. Because of the lack of food during the winter, they are active all winter in search of food.