Raccoons and City Living

By on March 7, 2015 with 11 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

This past week, I spent a day on a ride-along with John Griffin, who leads our Humane Wildlife Services (HWS) program. John and his team are on the road every day in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, their trucks loaded down with equipment, solving every kind of animal problem that homeowners deal with – bats in the bedroom, squirrels in the attic, and  raccoons in the chimney. It’s a fee-for-service program, and it’s an incredible resource to have in our home community, one that allows humane-minded homeowners to call in an experienced team to solve their  wildlife-related problems and not cause any harm to animals. It was super to see John and his team at work, providing a lifeline to animals and to frustrated and sometimes fearful homeowners.

You can do a virtual ride-along by tuning in tomorrow night to the National Geographic Wild channel and watching Raccoon: Backyard Bandit, airing at 9 p.m. EST. This is the story of a raccoon who lives in the heart of Washington, D.C., along with politicians, lawyers, cab drivers, and other urban dwellers. It is a first for Nat Geo Wild in that the story is told from the raccoon’s point of view and it has some really amazing footage – some of it never before seen – that comes directly through The HSUS’  own Humane Wildlife Services team.  Our team partnered with National Geographic to help them gain access to the urban raccoons featured in the story and known to us from our daily jobs.

The feature is especially timely as we get closer to Spring, when raccoons and other wildlife use attics and crawl spaces as safe havens in which to give birth and raise their young. When homeowners suddenly find that their attics have become wildlife nurseries, most would prefer to resolve the conflicts effectively and humanely. But for years the yellow pages have offered only “pest control” and “exterminators” as service providers, which usually means death for mothers and orphaning for many thousands of animals each year in a city like Washington. Wild animals living in cities are easy to think about only as “nuisances,” whose real homes are in forests or rural lands, not our urban centers. Not knowing any better, homeowners who think they can deal with wildlife themselves often just board up the hole the animals used to enter the attic, trapping the families being raised there.

As this show highlights in high definition, it doesn’t have to be like that. Humane alternatives exist, as our HWS team shows every day; alternatives that result in better outcomes for animals and people alike. Please read our resources concerning wildlife conflict issues in your home and community, and guidelines for the selection of a wildlife control operator. It is easy to make a humane choice, one that works out right for you, for animals, and for your home.


Take a sneak peek at Raccoon: Backyard Bandit.

Animal Rescue and Care, Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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  1. Christopher Nichol says:

    I feed an old male(I think) Raccoon that comes up to my window by the fire escape He’s blind in one eye and just trying to survive.I believe he deserves a chance.

  2. marilyn caputo says:

    what a wonder!!!! the elephants are free. this has been a main cause with me….along with many others… but the elephants are near to my heart…….. im also affiliated as a donor to the tennesse elephant pre serve………. i would wish the circus elephants would go there. its a beautiful place for these magnificent creatures that have put in their time in hell.. now they must rest. what a wonderful job Wayne. keep up the fight………we must free the lion tiger and bears,,,,, all of them…!!!!! GOD BLESS YOU.. and ALL THE CREATURES.. marilyn caputo

  3. Barbara Griffith says:

    A few years ago a female raccoon was showing up at my apt patio to eat a pan of dog food I was putting out for her. She seemed to be a lot tamer than most raccoons I had seen. She would stand back when I put her food down and then I stepped back inside to watch her eat I always had a dish of water there too. She even brought her cubs to eat in the spring they were totally wild not at all like the mother which I named notch ear because one of her ears was missing a small piece of the tip. She showed up for a meal for at least 6 years and then her visits became fewer and fewer until she never came back. I have a few pictures of her. You never know what happens to a wild animal but at least I helped her out with food. The last time I saw her she was in good condition.

    • Denni A says:

      great story – not sure what the life span is of raccoons but it’s not hard to imagine the struggle to survive as well as time played a factor in her not coming back.

      your comment about a small piece of the ear being tipped caught my eye.
      there’s is colony of cats in a back alley where I live, they come in my backyard occasionally and watch the squirrels and birds. I put food out for them so they have become “comfortable” hanging in the backyard.

      I noticed a couple of them appear to have had their left ear tipped/clipped and wondered if that is a practice done by rescue groups doing TNR.

      the clipping appears smooth and precise, not jagged or butchered.

      • Kelly says:

        Hi! I volunteer for the Humane Society in DC and I can tell you that the notched ear does in fact mean something — it means those cats were trapped, spayed, given a few nights at the Humane Society cat hotel, and then released back to their lovely cat lives. They do this so they know which ones they’ve already spayed and they won’t bother them again.

  4. Denni A says:

    I once had a momma opossum and her baby living in my attic. I waited until they both left the attic as spring turned into summer and the baby was old enough, then hired a roofer to come board up the hole and install new roofing to that one area. they had made a mess with the insulation and got it replaced as well in that one section. I now make sure as winter ends that there are no openings on the roof or elsewhere where wild critters can get in as spring approaches.

    • ck says:

      They did no harm to you. I wish people have the compassionate concept of living with wildlife since this planet is their home too. We took over their habitat and forced them to survive with very scare resources. Please make all effort to allow them to live peacefully among humans.

      • MLK says:

        That would be nice, however, this morning I found a little 6 months young kitty on my patio, shredded to piece by a raccoon. Animal Control and Fish and Game do nothing. Wait until your pet is killed, worse a child is attacked by an aggressive raccoon. I am all for peace and love, for me stray cats etc come first. Wild life is in the forest, not in the city!

        • Cutmemic says:

          I have raccoons skunks and opossums that all come to feed and get water at night . They all get along very well . The only time I see the mother raccoon turn aggressive is when another adult raccoon comes on the deck when her kits are around . They run away from most everything same with the skunks and opossums.

  5. Michael Landon says:

    This is really a very unique topic.You always share such amazing and intresting posts.Keep sharing your good work with us. raccoon removal California

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