Raccoons in Brooklyn

Believe it or not, raccoons have been spotted all summer long in Brooklyn.  In fact, in Greenpoint alone, there have been several known sightings. John Galvin, a resident on Oak Street, spotted a “gigantic” adult raccoon climbing over his backyard fence one morning. Michael Abramson, a neighbor down the block, had two separate nocturnal encounters:  a group of four little ones (looking for mama?) and a large adult (mama perhaps?) wandering down the street.  So we thought that our Brooklyn neighbors might enjoy the following excerpt from Richard Clayton’s “Critter Control: an Ultimate Guide for Gardeners.”

Critter Controls: an Ultimate Guide for Gardeners

Critter control methods are practical ways of removing undesired animals from your home or property. How often do you receive unwanted furry guests in your home? These uninvited creatures can be incredibly adorable, but most of them are mischievous little creatures. They can cause a lot of damage to both your home and your garden, and to valuable equipment you may have stored there.

Are you struggling to remove them completely without killing or harming them? We are here to provide you with some useful critter control tips to help you deal with raccoons, mice, squirrels, birds, snakes, and bats that might be a problem in your home or garden. Our methods are easy and cost-effective to help you get rid of your pests as efficiently as possible.


Getting to know them

How much do you know about raccoons? They are warm-blooded, nocturnal (awake at night) creatures that live in some parts of Canada and the USA. They are found in wilderness areas such as forests and marshlands, which isn’t a problem for most of us. However, they also live in crowded cities and the countryside right alongside people – which can become a problem very quickly!

The most noticeable feature of raccoons is their black rings surrounding dark eyes. This often reminds people of bank robbers wearing masks. Appropriate, considering how sneaky they can be! They have flexible and skilled front paws, which make them excellent at running, climbing, swimming and jumping.

The problems this animal causes

Many animal TV programs portray raccoons as cute creatures – and based on their physical characteristics, they are! However, don’t be too hasty to judge these creatures by their external appearance. Raccoons have sharp, strong claws, which can easily cause damage to walls, ceilings, basements, chimneys and attics. These resourceful creatures can cause huge problems for gardeners. Raccoons are omnivores, meaning that they eat all types of food. In the fall, they develop a taste for fruits (apples, peaches, pears) and vegetables (sweet corn, potatoes, peas), often stealing farmers’ crops.

However, the largest problem with raccoons is found in their feces. They carry a wide range of harmful diseases which can easily be transmitted to humans. The fact that raccoons breed rapidly only serves to increase the amount of damage they can cause. Critter control is definitely necessary when it comes to these pesky animals.

Getting rid of them

Raccoons are highly intelligent, so controlling them is a difficult task – but not impossible. The two main things to focus on when trying to get rid of raccoons are “ eliminate food sources” and “deter them”.

Eliminating food sources is a highly effective method of controlling raccoons. When the raccoons cannot find food and become hungry, they are forced to move elsewhere to find food.

So, where do raccoons find food?

You guessed it – trash!

Make sure to protect your trash as this is a common place for raccoons to find food. Placing a heavy object on top of the trash lid to prevent it being opened is a good place to start. You can also secure it with a sturdy lock if your trash can allows for this. Wash the trash can thoroughly after throwing garbage out, and try to avoid leaving trash outside at night.

The more of these measures you implement, the better!

The second thing that is likely to attract raccoons is fruit or other food left lying around your garden. Clean up any fruit and food debris from grass and outside surfaces. If you have pets, make sure that their food is out of reach of raccoons.

Now that we have eliminated possible food sources, let’s look at some ways to deter raccoons from your home.

The best way to do this is by making their nests uninhabitable. You can use a variety of scare tactics such as strong lights, noisemakers and radios. However, make sure you switch between these devices often so that the raccoons don’t become accustomed to them.

You can also disturb their nests with offensive smells. A good home remedy is to combine pepper, chili and water. Boil this mixture and spray it onto the entry points of the raccoon nests. This will ensure they quickly find a new home – critter control isn’t as difficult as you thought!

No method of eliminating raccoons guarantees that they will not return. However, keep your house clean to avoid attracting them. Fencing can also help, but make sure it is an electric fence. Raccoons are very good at climbing, and a non-electric fence will be useless at keeping them out.

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New York City has similar advice on their website.  They note that if none of the suggested methods work, “you may need to hire a Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator (NWCO) licensed by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). To find a professionally licensed wildlife trapper near you, visit www.dec.ny.gov and search ‘wildlife control’.”

You can read the rest of Richard’s advice on controlling other critters including mice, squirrels, and birds here.

This story was originally written by Richard Clayton for My Greenery Life, July 16, 2017.