Contrary to popular belief, trapping and relocating errant raccoons isn’t the most humane way of solving a raccoon issue. The problem in relocation is the raccoon is removed to a strange location where food and water sources are unknown. This new location may also be the territory of another raccoon who isn’t happy about the new intruder. Raccoon removal should be done in ways so that it doesn’t harm the animals.
Relocated raccoons often don’t survive more than a few weeks due to starvation, dehydration, and attacks by other animals. And if it’s a female with young, her chances are even slimmer. Not to mention, any youngsters who may have been left behind to fend for themselves will usually starve. In many states, it is illegal to trap and relocate any wildlife due to the possible spreading of disease.
The most humane method of eliminating a raccoon problem is with prevention and exclusion. Raccoons are drawn to food, water, and shelter. Eliminating these three things will encourage the wayward raccoon to move on its merry way.
Don’t leave pet food or water bowls outside as this attracts not only raccoons, but opossums and even skunks. Compost piles and trash cans will also attract raccoons. It may be necessary to enclose compost piles and trash cans in inaccessible locations. Remove their food source, and raccoons will usually not return.
Sealing access to crawlspaces will also deter raccoons. But be careful that an animal is not inside when closing off these entrances. There are one-way doors available that can be installed to allow a trapped animal to escape and not return, but these should only be used in the denning off-seasons. Nothing would be more inhumane than inadvertently sealing babies inside away from mama raccoon.
Raccoons normally live in trees, but during denning season, they often search out dens on the ground to bear their young. An accessible crawlspace under a house is often too tempting for mama raccoon to pass up. If a mama raccoon has taken up residence in a crawlspace, patience may be the only humane solution. Don’t be quick to trap and release. Seal up those access holes, remove the food and water source, and raccoons will usually leave on their own.