The raccoon (Procyon lotor) is common throughout Missouri, including urban and suburban areas. Their curious nature and habit of taking refuge in chimneys and attics, as well as their constant search of food, can lead to conflicts with property owners.
The Wildlife Code of Missouri classifies the raccoon as a furbearer and game mammal that may be taken during prescribed hunting and trapping seasons. See current regulations for details. The Code also specifies that you may shoot or trap damage-causing raccoons out-of-season without a permit. Refer to 3 CSR 10-4.130 Owner May Protect Property; Public Safety of the Code for details and restrictions.
Raccoons frequently enter buildings, attics, and chimneys. Female raccoons may breach attic screens or roof vents to gain entry to establish dens to bear young. Limit access to rooftops by removing overhanging branches. Prevent climbing on outbuildings by wrapping and nailing sheets of slick metal at least 3 feet square around corners. Protect poultry houses by securing doors and covering windows with wire mesh. Exclude from chimneys by securely fastening a commercial cap of sheet metal and heavy screen over the top of the chimney. Young may be present April through August, so before evicting adults to make repairs, make sure no young are present.
Deter raccoons by making pet food, garbage, and animal feed unavailable.
Store garbage, bird seed, and animal feed in metal or tough plastic containers with tight-fitting lids, or secure lids with bungee cords.
Raccoons can easily climb conventional fences. To increase fence effectiveness, run a hot wire from an electric fence charger along the top of the fence. Protect gardens with a single or double hotwire fence. For details, see The Electric Scarecrow by Gene Kelly, published in the Missouri Conservationist Magazine in 1996.
These are not recommended because none are known to be effective. In particular, mothballs are not effective. The naphthalene they contain is toxic, and the vapor is harmful to humans.
Cage-type traps should be sturdy and at least 10 by 12 by 32 inches in size. Place on shaded rooftops, in attics, or in areas of known activity. Bait with cat food or sardines. Baiting with sweets such as bread with jelly or marshmallows is also effective and avoids capturing neighborhood cats. Young may be present April to August, so before trapping adults and making repairs, make sure no young are present
Body-gripping traps are not allowed for dry-land sets in Missouri, but in locations such as an attic you may set them 6 feet or more above ground. Foothold traps are also effective. Both traps require special skill and experience, and restrictions on use apply. See current trapping regulations for details. Your local county conservation agent can likely provide the name of a local trapper who can assist you. Browse our contact database to find your county agent. In some situations, the Department wildlife damage biologist can provide instruction, equipment, and assistance. Or conduct a Web search for companies that specialize in wildlife removal.
Raccoons can be shot with conventional firearms, usually a rimfire. Check with local authorities regarding firearms use. If taken during the prescribed season, a properly prepared, young, medium-sized raccoon makes excellent table fare.