I would like some insight into racoon behavior, please. We have about 10 that troll our property every night. We live in a large urban city that is definitely in the running for being the racoon capitol of NA. I have a large hugelkultur bed, built about three feet in height and dug down to a depth of about two feet. Racoons have discovered that the worms in these beds are delicious, especially the ones that live in the potato section. I have tried every kind of deterrent possible-hot peppers, coyote and wolf pee, but these critters are determined and they continue to rip away at the roots of the tomatoes while searching for their worms. We have also tried relocating the critters but frankly that just feels futile. The beds are a mess, meaning all the no-till benefit of these hugel beds are now compromised. Deer, possums, three bunnies and a few voles also trouble them, but these critters do not compare to these masked bandits. Feeling discouraged about this wonderful new gardening method ad this very unexpected outcome. I would like to continue this method as a service to the earth, if nothing else. I know someone will suggest that a fence is the only option and, well, perhaps this is true.
raccoons are nasty and carry rabies
if you trap them , relocate them to heaven
there are "pest services" that can come and eliminate them
but if your area has lots of racoons, others will probably fill in the empty spot
maybe a good dog patrolling around the fenced area will help
electric fence would impress them
one of the things not mentioned enough in permaculture is the advice that in areas of high pests, ie, deer, racoons, rabbits, foxes, coyotes, etc
your permaculture project could be seen as "bait"
I took the state nuisance animal course here several years ago, and at that time, less then 1/10 of 1% of raccoons test positive for rabies. With that said, you gotta move them a minimum of 12 miles, and then you are probably just giving your problem to someone else.
I am really surprised that raccoons are eating a large amount of worms. They will eat about anything, but worms are way down on the list. Skunks or armadillo are much bigger worm eaters.
A good dog, even a borrowed one, is an excellent suggestion. Bright lights, loud noises and e fences all offer some help.
another option is to see the problem as a solution (to employment)
if the area around you has plenty of pests
become a pest management specialist - be the person that others pay to get rid of raccoons!!!
in Pa it is illegal to relocate certain animals including raccoons
I think you have the solution already. You clearly stated that the raccoons are particularly attracted to the potato area of the bed - my guess, you have a grub or other critter that specifically likes potatoes/tubers that is currently destroying your crops. I would highly suggest a thorough soil analysis to ensure, first, that you are not targeting the wrong critter.
If in fact there is just juicy earthworms the coons are after, then I highly recommend looking into purchasing electrified, mesh, fencing. This will also work for cats, rabbits, and other ground grazers. I found mine at www.kencove.com under "rabbit fencing" I think. It is a 3 foot high mesh that is installed on step on posts and is 150 feet long. There is no permanent installation required and it is moveable - just relocate the stakes and away you go.
Lorinne Anderson: Specializing in sick, injured, orphaned and problem wildlife for over 20 years.
When I read the title of your thread, I thought, "Well, yeah, I guess you could bury a dead raccoon in a hugel bed. Why not."
Then I clicked on it and realized . . . "OH -- you mean LIVE raccoons."
I'd recommend the former. Trap them, kill them, bury them, and enjoy the abundance they bring to the biosphere.
Let me anticipate concerned responses that may be posted here. First of all, having 10 raccoons in your yard certainly appears that their population is anything but threatened. Like rats, skunks, possums or any other unwanted animal pest, I have no ethical problem with culling the population and bringing things back into balance. In any urban environment, they have no natural predators except cars and the occasional really huge dog that isn't intimidated by them. But a big raccoon can get larger than 35 lbs— sometimes over 40. They are fierce. Their feces is full of nasty microbes, and while it's not likely that they carry rabies, they still are nasty creature to have around when their population is so large.
Second, they've been habituated to coming regularly to your garden for dinner. They apparently have no fear of humans, and that makes them even more concerning. If they were in the attic of your home instead of in your hugel beds, would you be as tolerant of their presence? I certainly wouldn't. We have a major problem with squirrels and possums here in our community, and the collective attitude of our neighbors has become, "Enough -- their population is taking over, getting into attics and sheds, and creating a mess everywhere. Time to thin them out."
Third, you are a part of the eco-system. People who are strongly against removing and killing such over-populated animals often do not realize that our presence is what has caused their populations to explode. Deer feed on lush farms crops, golf courses, suburban flower beds and community soccer and baseball fields, all without any fear of predators. Rat populations explode in abandoned buildings, far in excess of what they would do in completely natural environments. Like it or not, our urban and suburban environments are here to stay, and will be a tremendous benefit to adaptive animals like raccoons, coyotes, rats, pigeons, possums, and the like. Feral pigs have taken over the world in the American south and south east and are increasingly being found in the suburbs and even the cities. Even wild horse populations have so overgrown their available forage that they are threatening native ecosystems of other animals. Unless humans assume their role as top predators and help reduce their populations, you'll have 20 raccoons in your backyard this time next year.
Or we could just reintroduce wolves to our city parks and suburban gardens. Then we wouldn't be the top of the food chain any more. That might make it interesting for the children walking to school in the mornings, but it would help thin the raccoon population.
No mean spirited responses please. The little raccoons are cute as a button, aren't they? But little raccoons grow into big destructive pests in a year. I'm lucky in the fact that I've got a great place to relocate my trapped raccoons, but for people who don't have that option, please show some tolerance for my darwinian response to the problem.
"The rule of no realm is mine. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, these are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail in my task if anything that passes through this night can still grow fairer or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I too am a steward. Did you not know?" Gandolf