Raccoons are host to a number of parasites and diseases that can infest people or pets, including canine distemper. No cases of rabies have been reported in Nova Scotia. Dens or other heavily utilized raccoon areas may be infested with the eggs of raccoon roundworm. Every effort should be made to remove raccoon feces from areas frequented by people. The use of rubber gloves and a dust mask are recommended.
The Department of Natural Resources should be notified if:
- racoons are seen exhibiting abnormal behaviour
- a human has been bitten or scratched
Information for Farmers
Raccoon damage both crops and livestock, especially corn and poultry.
Damage to corn fields is characterized by broken stalks (where the raccoon climbed to reach the ears) and ears where the husks are pulled back and the corn is partially or completely eaten off the cob.
More information about identifying raccoon bird kills can be found in the “for poultry” tab.
Hunting or Trapping
Raccoons are classified as a furbearer in Nova Scotia, and therefore a permit must by acquired before they can be shot or trapped. See here for information about obtaining a permit .
Where raccoons are plentiful, hunters and trappers should be encouraged to harvest surplus animals during the regular open seasons. The local Natural Resources office may be able to suggest competent individuals. Where this option is not practical, the use of live traps is usually the best alternative. In many areas licensed Nuisance Wildlife Operators may be hired, more information about Nuisance Wildlife Operators can be found by contacting your local Natural Resources office.
Poultry are sometimes killed by raccoons, however their kills are distinctive:
- Usually the head will be bitten off and left at a distance from the rest of the body;
- the breast may sometimes be chewed;
- the entrails may sometimes be eaten;
- some young birds, if they are caged, may be missing feet or legs from the raccoon attempting to pull them through the fence;
- eggs may be eaten on the spot (i.e., not carried away), or within a short space (less than 9m) with the shells emptied.
Raccoons are adept climbers. Fences will protect chickens, if they have an overhang at the top, or a live electric wire to prevent the raccoon from climbing over.
- Short electrified fences (1 or 2 strands, approximately 6 inches off the ground) will help to protect your crop from raccoon damage.
- Ensure there are no overhanging branches that raccoons can use to gain access to the crop.
- The fence only needs to be electrified from dusk until dawn, when raccoons are active.
- Keep garbage indoors, or secured using metal or tough plastic bins with tight fitting lids.
- Use exclusion devices on chimneys, these are available commercially.
- Make sure that tree limbs surrounding buildings (approximately 3 feet from roofs/walls) are trimmed to prevent racoons from climbing onto the structure.
- Racoons will lift up freshly laid sod to gain access to earthworms and grubs below. Tacking down sod with long wire pins, wooden stakes, or nylon netting until the grass can take root will help prevent damage (provided the area of sod is not too expansive).