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One night last summer I found a raccoon staring at me on the other side of a window. The next day was garbage collection, and our garbage can was out on the curb. The critter probably wanted more where that came from.
Becky McPeake is an extension wildlife expert at the University of Arkansas. She says if these ring-tailed rascals see you’re a source of food, they’ll get used to human activity and start hanging around. They typically move around at night, so put potential food sources like garbage cans outside during the day.
To get rid of raccoons, McPeake says the best method is live trapping, if your state allows it.
"In some states they really don’t want you to move raccoons around very much because of the disease issues, because of rabies. In other states they might not be quite as stringent," says McPeake. "So if you are allowed legally to live trap them, then you can move them many, many miles away with a river or mountain, or some type of barrier between you and them."
You can also try chasing them off through their sense of smell.
"Mothballs are one of our common home remedies. We sometimes recommend them with the caveat that they may or may not work. Raccoons, as well as other wildlife like skunks, sometimes are repelled by those odors," she says. "There’s been some evidence that when female raccoons are having their young in their attic, you can get some coyote urine and you can put that out around where they are, and the female will take her young and move elsewhere."
McPeake says you could also try loud music and flashing lights to make them to leave. Apparently, it’s not their choice of entertainment.
Find more tips for controlling raccoons