Raccoons are homestead predators that look like bandits with those Lone Ranger type masks over their eyes. Don’t let their looks fool you – they’re much more clever than the common bandit you might encounter.
One of the incredible characteristics of these animals is their ability to manipulate things with their hands. I say hands rather than paws because they don’t paw at things as much as they grip and manipulate things. Given sufficient time, raccoons can manipulate and unlock things that are secured with clips, wires, latches and other devices that secure things without a key. The only limitation that they have is strength, so if you have something fastened tightly and it requires strength to remove it, raccoons won’t be able to do it.
Another characteristic of these animals is they prowl at night. They’re hidden away during the day and go out in search of food at night. If you find one out in the daytime, it may be rabid so keep yourself and other animals away from it.
Raccoons also climb very well and can fashion a nest out of just about anything from vegetation to tools and resources they might find laying around in your shop. In urban environments, they often live in an unlikely place – the system of storm drains. Nowhere to be found during the day, yet prowling on your back porch to eat your cat food at night – all because the system of storm drains gives them a great hiding spot.
Like the fox, this animal is a threat to small animals on your homestead. Chickens and turkeys have become victims to raccoons who are fond of eating the head off of the animal and leaving the rest. Only the largest and most aggressive of turkeys will fend off such a predator that has dexterity, sharp teeth and as much as 30 pounds behind it.
Wire barriers are effective for raccoons, but any barrier must also address the issue of climbing. Raccoons can climb very well, so put a lid or high voltage electric fencing around the top of your pens, otherwise, your fowl are at risk. I don’t like the idea of feeding such an animal, but if you offer it an alternative food source, like dog and cat food, it will probably leave your chickens, ducks and turkeys alone.
Nevertheless, if they’ve found a home in your barn, attic, garage or shop, or perhaps under your shed or wood pile, you’ll have to do more than simply ask them to leave. The biggest problem is trying to discourage them once they’ve found a home. Trapping and relocation can work well, but this can be a repetitive process. If not, you’ll likely have to terminate their lease at your place by terminating their lease on life.