Michigan State University masthead


Raccoons persist in getting into our garbage and tearing things up, and leave feces on the porch and deck. How can we stop them?

Raccoons are the ultimate survivors.  They are intelligent and like what humans do to the land,; they will eat almost anything edible, whether natural or provided by people.  They have become over-abundant in many places, due to their adaptability to human changes in the environment.  When common, raccoons can have a severe impact on populations of ducks, pheasants, and other ground-nesting birds, turtles, and other wildlife; in their search for food or shelter, raccoons can tear up lawns, destroy crops, and enter and damage buildings.  They can also carry and transmit rabies, parasites, and various other diseases.

Remedies include:

  • Image of raccoonExclusion: Use lockable trash containers, cap chimneys, repair openings in barns, sheds, etc., fence off under decks; electric fences can protect small crop areas, otherwise 'coons can climb most non-electric fences easily. Never leave pet food or other edibles where 'coons can get to it.  Commercial animal repellents may deter 'coons from small buildings and away from certain plants; a large dog in the yard may also deter 'coon activity.
  • Live trapping and removal: Large cage traps baited with peanut butter, chicken parts, etc. will work. Handle with care— a trapped raccoon is dangerous and can result in a severe bite!  Raccoons must be moved at least 15 miles to avoid quick return; releasing them is often discouraged by MDNR, as it just puts the problem in someone else's neighborhood.  Check with MDNR and local municipality for advice and restrictions.
  • Sport hunting: Effective where allowed; check with MDNR and local authorities for current regulations.
  • Trapping and humane destruction: In Michigan, legal on private property for raccoons doing damage, but check with MDNR for latest rules, recommended trapping procedure, and disposal methods. Handle trapped animals and carcasses with extreme caution, and avoid contact with feces to avoid disease transmission.