Although trapping is frequently suggested as a solution to wildlife conflicts, it’s neither the best nor the most effective approach. Here is what you need to know about trapping before you even think about using a raccoon trap.
- In many states it is illegal to trap and remove raccoons without a license, so check with your state wildlife agency, county, or local animal care and control department.
- Even if it is legal, trapping usually doesn’t solve the problem because it doesn’t deal with the root cause of the conflict.
- Removing what is attracting the animal in the first place is the best way to get rid of the animal and the conflict.
- Animals are attracted to two things; food and shelter. Reducing or eliminating access to these attractants is the best way to solve a wildlife conflict.
Trapping… it doesn’t end there
Trapping often leads to other issues that you may not have considered. For instance, you may trap a mom who has dependent young, who will be left behind to starve within your home or residence, and humaneness of this action aside, the smell and sound of dying young left behind is not worth it. You can’t always select for what species you are going to get and may not have a release plan in place for an unexpected species. If it is legal to trap, here are some critical cautions and considerations you should think about so that you don not exacerbate the problem:
- A commonly used trap for raccoons is a box or cage style trap intended for live-capture, that is roughly 12” x 12” x 36”.
- Trapping or holding endangered or threatened species is illegal so make sure you know what you are trapping and use the appropriate live-trap for the species you are trying to capture.
- Trapping outside does not ensure that you catch the raccoon that is living in your house or chimney, or that you will even catch a raccoon. Raccoon home ranges overlap, and anytime you put a baited trap outdoors you never know what you are going to get.
- Have a release plan in place before setting the trap to avoid emergency calls to animal control and care agencies and to avoid keeping animals in traps for extended periods of time.
- Know how you are going to safely move and open a trap with a raccoon or other animal inside to an area where you can release him or her.
- Do not trap in March–September as helpless young are likely to be present, and trapping would leave the young to starve.
- Check any trapped animal for signs of lactation – if you can see a raccoon’s teats, that’s a nursing mother.
- If you can’t use the one-way door eviction method, setting a trap in the attic or void space the raccoon is using as a den is an acceptable way of helping to target the animal that is living inside.
- Secure any trap so that it will not become dislodged or move once an animal is inside and make sure that there are not things close by that the raccoon can grab and pull inside in his or her desperate attempt to get out of the trap.
- Monitor the trap often to minimize the animal’s time spent in the trap. Animals can die of trap stress or significantly injure themselves in their attempts to get out.
- Once trapped, make sure that there are no other individuals including young and then seal or repair the opening that attracted the raccoon to your house in the first place. It may be necessary to temporarily block the entry point while you release the raccoon and then return to permanently seal the opening.
- Release the animal onsite. Releasing the raccoon elsewhere is usually illegal and a bad idea, especially if you later find babies left behind. Also, the relocated raccoon would have little chance of surviving in unfamiliar territory. When releasing raccoons or any animal, wear heavy gloves and hold the trap away from you.
Health concerns and safe clean-up…
For detailed clean-up instructions after evicting raccoons from your home, visit the Centers for Disease Control website.