Raccoon: Procyon lotor
The raccoon (Procyon lotor) is about the size of a small dog, and is most notable for its black mask and bushy ringed tail.
Raccoons are common throughout the state and occur everywhere there are trees, the cavities of which they often use.
Raccoons are omnivorous feeding on fruits, plant material, eggs, crustaceans, small animals, and garbage. Raccoons usually become active in the late afternoon and throughout the night.
Problem raccoons are usually the result of chronic feeding by humans. Wild raccoons accustomed to being fed will generally lose their natural fear of humans and seek to move closer to their food source--your house. Once raccoons take up residence in your attic or outbuildings they can become very destructive and difficult to remove.
Prevention is the key to dealing with raccoon problems. Do not feed raccoons! It is illegal to place or offer food or garbage in a way that it attracts raccoons and creates a public nuisance. (Rule 68A-4.001 (3)). Do what you can to eliminate their artificial food sources. Bring in pet food at night and secure trash cans by either fastening the lid tightly or enclosing them in lockable bins. Make sure bird feeders are not accessible to raccoons (i.e., squirrel-proofed).
Raccoons should not be handled by inexperienced individuals because of the risk of rabies infection. It is lawful for landowners to humanely destroy (take) or live-trap nuisance raccoons without a permit from the FWC as long as approved methods are used to take or trap the animals. Neither steel traps or a gun and light can be used without a permit. Nuisance raccoons can be live-trapped and relocated released without a permit as long as certain conditions are met. Raccoons can only be relocated before being released as long as: 1) they are released in the same county, 2) the person releasing them has written permission from landowner, 3) the recipient site hasis at least 40 contiguous acres, and 4) both the local County Health Department and County Animal Services verify there is no type of rabies alert or area quarantine in place.
You can receive technical assistance for raccoon problems by contacting your nearest FWC regional office.
Image Credit: Tim Omeara