As the weather gets warmer and the days begin to grow longer we begin to notice the first stirring of spring, the earth and her creatures awakening after a long winters slumber. In Toronto this also means the beginning of the nightly battle between homeowners and the raccoon population. We know what you’re thinking we have invaded their space etc. yet we still have to coexist with one another and there are times when we humans are losing the battle to these wily critters. When we became homeowners the elderly childless couple next door fed our neighborhood raccoon and skunk population and while charitable, this left us with an enormous problem, we could not sit out in our backyard after dusk and at least one morning a week we awoke to the pungent aroma of skunk musk because our neighbors Chow surprised one of the little black and white critters.
Raccoons are nature’s scavengers, her garbage collectors if you will, and in the wild they are preyed upon by bobcats, coyotes, and the great owl, urbanization however has destroyed these populations and raccoons now have no natural predators and, with an endless food supply aka our garbage, their numbers have completely gone unchecked. In the GTA the booming raccoon population is a real problem.
What can the average homeowner do to protect themselves? When you google ways to raccoon proof your garbage you will find suggestions like make sure the area around your garbage is well lit, sprinkle the area with naphtha flakes aka mothballs, sprinkle predator urine around your garbage, ammonia will also serve in a pinch, and others suggest playing a talk radio station will also keep raccoons away. We have tried all of the above remedies and nothing worked. The only thing that did work was to completely remove their food source by making sure all of our garbage AND recycling had lids which were secured or stowed away in a garage, shed or and enclosure. Yes we said recycling, even though everything in your recycling bin is empty this actually serves to annoy them, and they will respond by pooping in your recycling bin. We know this from firsthand experience, the only thing worse than cleaning up the contents of your green bin first thing in the morning, is cleaning raccoon poop out of your recycling bin.
If you are storing away your garbage and recycling in the garage make sure the door is closed and locked, adult raccoons will go on their hind legs reach up and turn the door knob (we have actually seen this) and now not only do you have to pick up your garbage but you also have to worry about whether or not the critter has decided to take up residence in your garage. If that happens, call a removal service and they will advise you how best to deal with the situation.
When you have locked up your garbage racoons will continue visiting your property until they are absolutely certain there is no potential for a meal; almost as if they are waiting for you to let down your guard. Their tenacity knows no bounds. It took about two years for our nocturnal visits to stop, but we still lock up our garbage one slip up and we will end up back on their nightly rounds.
Best of Luck