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Raccoon trouble

July 16th, 2010 · 63 Comments

Those of us who have lived in Magnolia for a long time know that our area has always had a problem with raccoons.  Nicole just moved here this spring and her dog was recently attacked by a raccoon in her backyard.  She is reminding people not to feed the raccoons.  Nicole  posted her concerns in our forum:

I have since had them visiting almost everyday and it’s getting scary. One was looking in our patio door with my kids were sitting right there. Had one of them opened the door, I’m afraid of what might have happened. My children are too young to understand the danger they pose. I’ve tried chasing the raccoons off by yelling at them, banging on pots, all the techniques PAWS gave me, and even bought a paintball gun. They simply aren’t afraid of people, most likely because there are people in Magnolia feeding them. I know this from our veterinarian who says they see dogs attacked by raccoons every couple of weeks. From what they told me, Magnolia and Queen Anne have a serious problem with them. I’ve only lived here since March and I have to say, I’m in agreement with that. I’m at the point I’m afraid to let my kids or my pets go in the backyard. I’m asking people to please not feed the racoons on purpose, contain your trash the best you can and to use bird and squirrel feeders that racoons can’t get into. It was not a pleasant experience hearing my dog howl from the attack and God forbid a child get bit.

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  • Crittercontrol

    Don’t feed them? Secure the trash? Thanks for the great advice, newcomer.

    It’s more than likely that the previous tenant of your place ignored the common sense advice and there’s now nothing you can do about it short of calling the pros in.

    Don’t forget you’ve moved into the largest greenbelt in the city. Just wait for the rats!

  • icky

    “Had one of them opened the door, I’m afraid of what might have happened.”

    Nothing would have happened, so stop with the ‘think of the children!’ rhetoric.

  • Nicole

    Wow, those are such helpful responses. Thank you so much for your insight. Oh, and thanks for the warm, welcoming reception to the neighborhood.

  • EB1

    Nicole, please don’t consider these responses representative of all your neighbors. Your concerns are well grounded. A racoon could tear apart a toddler in no time. I once had a neighbor who fed all the ferrel cats in the neighborhood. In her zest to do good she ended up attracting and feeding several racoons as well. Several attempts to get her to stop were unsuccessful. I eventually ended up having to have two racoons captured and killed. I find that a good technique to scare off racoons is to get the garden hose out and squirt them. They hate water, and always retreat immediately.

  • Laura

    We have been dealing with racoons for a long time. we are not feeding them. we secure our garbage. Magnolia is actually as wildernessy as Seattle gets. we have bears and cougars occasionally too. Oh, coyotes too. I had one of those in my side yard a couple of times. he kept coming by to play with the neighbors dog. they would run down the fence with each other. kinda cute until he snatched up a purse dog and the cops shot him.

  • Jody

    Some people around here may not think of the raccoons as a threat, but a few summers ago, I was attacked (scratched and bitten) by one. I needed to get rabies shots and they were very painful, time consuming and expensive (even with my health insurance). I also spent hundreds of dollars getting about 8+ of them trapped. The authorities said that they get more aggressive than normal when they are overpopulated.
    The attack occurred in late August when the grapes in our backyard were ripe. Also the older woman across the alley and another older couple up a block have always fed the raccoons.

  • magnoliamom

    I am always surprised at how people use this site to be so rude and discouraging….
    I agree that this is a valid concern. I have 2 little ones also, and have been concerned about leaving them to play in the yard. We have seen a pair of raccoons walking through our yard in the middle of the day, and I spotted one in the tree in our yard. I am doing my best to gather all of our crumbs at the end of the day, and I’m praying for the safety of our children. I’m also praying for the hearts of our neighbors who don’t take these concerns seriously.

  • Boeing Babe

    A raccoon will kill a cat – so if you have one be aware. And a good preventative for the kiddos opening the sliding door is tolock it and put a stick in the track (and don’t tell them) – usually kids small enough to “not understand” can’t figure out the lock and just aren’t aware of the physics of the stick in the track. The last resort is to get a trap from the wildlife folks and move them into the mountains.

  • Jody

    Boeing Babe – They won’t give people traps to trap them yourself anymore. I looked into it and ended up having to hire a professional trapper.
    Also, a trapped raccoon in a cage is terrifying for both the raccoon and the (non-professional) person having to carry it away.
    The raccoons look cute but they have a Tasmanian Devil, Mr. Hyde alter-ego.

  • anthermagnoliamom

    Maybe the welcome would have been warmer if you hadn’t led off by blaming your neighbors for causing the problem we all face, and assuming that we’re all too dim to know the first thing to do about it.

  • Welcome Nicole!!

    Nicole! I just wanted to reiterate that not all of your Magnolia neighbors are so snarky. There are tons of children in the neighborhood and the raccoons definitely are a problem. Please know that the majority, I believe, of your neighbors are very welcoming and share your concerns.

  • Nicole

    Thank you all so much for your positive and helpful responses. I was feeling pretty discouraged this morning but am back to loving this great community! We will be figuring out a way to get rid of these creatures soon. They are out at all times of the day and hang out in my kids’ playhouse. In addition attacks, I’m worried about their feces which is more of a threat than rabies. And as to the overpopulation, PAWS told me they will have babies as many times as the food source will support. So if they are well fed, their will be more. Relocating them will not fix the problem. I do like the hose idea. It sounds like a bit of fun!

    Have a great weekend all of you,


  • Val

    She’ll fit right in in Magnolia.

  • Snarkbark

    Nicole, welcome to the neighborhood and yes, be very careful with your kids/pets. Too bad your kids aren’t old enough to shoot them with paint balls. Older kids would probably love to shoot them.

    Disregard the nasty trolls……

  • Magmom

    Hi Nicole,
    Welcome to the neighborhood. There are jerks here like anywhere else, unfortunately. But on the whole, it’s a great neighborhood. Good luck managing your raccoon problem!

  • Nick

    Niccole (and all). As before, Raccoons will retreat and not come back if you squirt ’em. Not with the hose, but with one of thos plastic squirt bottles filled with Amonia. My bottle shoots about 20 feet, and when I hear a critter, I step out on the deck and squirt them. Not only do they retreat, but the other animals avoid them because of the Amonia smell. Niccolle, put some motyh balls in the playhouse, they won’t come back and the moth ball smell will dissipate so your children can once again enjoy it!

  • Snow

    Welcome, Nicole. We commiserate with you and your concerns, and we are in the vast majority. I feel sorry for the mean and otherwise idle folks who like to park themselves on this site to torture their neighbors. But yes, mothballs, that seems to work for most of us.

  • catperson

    We had a pitcher of water handy, it’s faster than grabbing the hose. It doesn’t hurt them. I have also heard of the moth balls every foot or so. Coyote urine maybe?

  • EyeSpy

    In lower Magnolia/Interbay area, there is a person (whom I don’t believe lives in the area) that has taken it upon themselves to feed the ‘cute widdy helpless animals’ .

    Sadly, I think this person knows what they are doing is wrong because as soon as they seen that I’ve spotted them, they hurry into their car and drive away.

    So if you live adjacent to an alley in the Magnolia/Interbay area, be on the lookout for a beatup older model red hatchback.

  • durango

    Nicole, just a note to say thank you for your post. I see racoons on a regular basis but I was unaware of how they might be impacting pets and kids. Please don’t pay any attention to the rude comments. I like the idea of the hose, spray bottle and would also suggest an air pistol for the big and mean ones. Welcome to the neighborhood!

  • JW

    Whacking them with a long-handled shovel is pretty effective. If it doesn’t actually kill them, it usually teaches them to seek friendlier backyards. They are, after all, pretty smart varmits, but they are not at all nice.

  • Brad

    Nicole is a great addition to Magnolia and is plenty sharper than the dim bulbs and rude magnolia mom who posted. We have met her family and share a fence line several houses away. The issue here with a raccoon family is real and they ride the fence hitting multiple yards. Unfortunately, there are indeed some folks nearby who envision a “friendly oasis” for critters, which includes feeding the neighbors dogs through the fence. It just makes it worse for everyone. Thanks for ammonia, mothball and shovel ideas. I think thats a great start and at least something to work with. Haven’t called the city yet. Do they do anything proactive if asked by us taxpayers?

  • How about

    When my kids were toddlers, we had this problem as well. When I called Wildlife Control, they could only recommend trapers. The woman on the phone recommended that I mix water and vineger in a bucket and to buy a super soaker. She said to aim for the face and that it had worked for her. For some reason, the raccoons stopped visiting, so I never got to try it out.

  • Rocco

    There is a female in our neighborhood who had three kits last year and four this year. They are indeed very bold and persistant. Last year our cat had what we suspect were raccoon injuries. (He’s a tough little guy and survived but it wasn’t cheap!) We see them on our deck all the time, often it’s young ones learning to forage. The population will continue to grow until there is some sort of catastrophic collapse but who knows when that will be. I suggest it’s time to call The City and ask for animal control to take action. (PS Don’t put dog or cat food inside near the pet door. Raccoons will enter to eat it.)

  • magnoliamom

    ummm…i don’t see how i was rude when i was trying to be encouraging. apologies.

  • Brad

    mag mom, you were indeed very helpful and encouraging. There’s another person above with a similar user name that was throwing cold water on everything. My apologies for any confusion.

  • Nick

    An addedum to the Raccoon chatter. Of the 13 Raccoons I trapped a few years ago when the Game Dept loaned out free traps. 9 had distemper and the humane society killed them. The remainder were turned loose up in the woods somewhere. In other words, 25% of the critters had distemper, which is easily transferable to your pets. In response to shooting them with a BB pistol, don’t bother. When hit they just turn around and look at you! Too much fur I guess. Amonia works wonders. Unless you are really quick, slapping them with a shovel will result in the animal turning on you and giving you a nice bite!

  • Nick

    Whoops, I transposed…that should have read “3”, not nine had distemper

  • SeattleRio

    Welcome to Magnolia Nicole!

    We work with exotic animals and occasionally have dealt with raccoons. Many professional wildlife removal agencies however have noted that deterrents such as some that have been recommended are generally unsuccessful.

    This website provides some resources as well as a listing of agencies that assist with pest control in our region:

    A note of caution for everyone regarding mothballs. These contain naphthalene which is highly toxic when accidentally ingested by pet animals or children thus can cause severe illness or fatality. The outdoor element breaks them down into the ground soil which then are tracked by the pet animals paws that are later ingested while they groom themselves.

    The Poison Control Centre has also pointed out that the vapours alone can be extremely dangerous for children. Just one mothball can potentially produce significant illness.

  • john

    If you trap them, you are not allowed by law to relocate them. You’ll have to either have someone like critter control come and get them and let them “dispose” of them or do it your self. Trust me getting an angry caged racoon into a garbage can to drown him as was suggested by the wildlife official I spoke to is harder then it may seem.

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