It’s legal to trap and euthanize raccoons, but not relocate them.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Raccoons have it good at the Skyline Forest home Charles Van Vliet shares with his family. They sit and eat dinner on the deck, peek in the windows and miraculously climb pillars and squeeze through an invisible opening to nest in the joists, where they chitter and scratch and sleep and urinate.
“They’re out there rollicking in the backyard,” Van Vliet says, “It’s like, ‘Wait a minute. This is my house.’”
Van Vliet set to trapping as many as he could. He has penned 14 total, releasing them at Garland Ranch Regional Park.
“There’s a river there,” he says.
It seems humane enough. Only it’s also ineffective. And illegal.
“Another raccoon will just move in,” says the SPCA’s Clinton Curtis, who was recently in Skyline on a consultation. While it is legal to trap raccoons damaging property (or people), transporting them is a no-no, as that can potentially accelerate the spread of disease among populations. That leaves euthanasia, which presents its own challenges.
Shooting them is illegal in municipalities that prohibit discharging firearms. The SPCA uses an IV with a sedative and sodium pentobarbital, but that’s a controlled substance.
The Critter Getter’s James Schlittler uses a high-powered pellet gun that’s legal to shoot when he has to make a kill. Drowning is common, according to experts: People throw the trap in a garbage can full of water. But Fish and Game’s Jeff Cann avoids furnishing any advice.
“I typically leave that up to a person’s discretion,” he says. “I want them to do it humanely, but I can’t recommend the absolutely best way, because there’s no prescription that works everywhere. And because people will Monday morning quarterback any suggestions.”
Instead he directs people to resources like Keep Me Wild, which appears below with some other options for aid:
Keep Me Wild | “You may not realize it – a simple bag of garbage, bowl of pet food, or plate of leftovers left outside your home or vacation site, can cause severe harm to wildlife.” | www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/ (916) 322-8911
SPCA for Monterey County Human Wildlife Services | “An animal-friendly alternative to pest and wildlife control services… through the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. | www.spcamc.org, 264-5498
The Critter Getter | “Should talk turn to raccoons at a cocktail party, my name will inevitably come up.” | 375-5684