Monongalia County Health Department Provides Racoon Safety Tips - Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Monongalia County Health Department Provides Racoon Safety Tips

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According to the Monongalia County Health Department, eight raccoons tested positive for rabies in Monongalia County in 2012. It said only one of the eight had human or domestic animal contact. The MCHD advises that although they may look harmless, raccoons can be a nuisance and in some cases, downright dangerous – particularly if they are infected with rabies.

The best deterrent to raccoon activity is prevention. Raccoons will look for homes where food is easy to find. The MCHD urges residents to take the following measures to deter raccoons:


  • Seal garbage cans tight. Raccoons have opposable thumbs, and can remove any loose or broken lids. The best garbage cans have lids that lock into place with handles or clamps. If necessary, keep garbage cans inside a secure building.
  • Don't feed raccoons. Feed outside pets during the day, and don't leave their food or water dishes outside after dark when raccoons are likely to be looking for food and water. In some cases, raccoons have even fought cats and dogs for their food.
  • Control access to the home. Blocking off access to a home is the best raccoon deterrent. Inspect houses thoroughly to find any holes or crevices where raccoons may enter. They can get through surprisingly small spaces. This includes chimneys, attic vents and the seams along roofs and baseboards. Block any spaces with sheet metal or heavy screening. You might consider hiring a professional to look for and cover these places.
  • Scare tactics don't work. Banging pots and pans may be a temporary raccoon deterrent, but raccoons are persistent. They will come back long after you've given up. Water-sprayer raccoon deterrents are also widely available. They hook to your hose and use a motion detector to scare off raccoons. They will work for as long as it takes the raccoons to find a way around them.
  • Although there are no approved repellents, toxicants or fumigants for raccoon problems, some chemical raccoon deterrents are commercially available. These include mixtures of coyote urine and other natural repellants. Also, some research shows that moth balls may keep raccoons out of enclosed spaces in the house.
  • In extreme cases, traps may be used. There are three ways a landowner can legally trap a raccoon and properly release it. The first and most recommended option would be to contact a licensed animal removal specialist. They have the most knowledge and the training to properly and humanely remove wild animals. The second option would be have a person possessing a WV hunting license trap the animal during raccoon hunting season. The last option would be for the land owner to contact their local West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officer and apply for a Wildlife Damage Permit to trap the animal themselves. Usually, traps must be of the "humane" variety—cages that trap the animal without harming it. Trapping a raccoon humanely is important to prevent injury to the raccoon. Getting rid of a raccoon is a process that should be carried out with proper planning and procedures. Releasing the raccoon back into its environment properly is important. Contact a licensed animal control specialist or the DNR for recommendations.
  • Catching a baby raccoon and keeping it as a pet is against the law. The DNR stopped issuing pet permits for raccoons in 2006 do to the potential risk of rabies.
  • Watch out for raccoons that are active during the day, move erratically or are not afraid of humans. They may have rabies. If you suspect there is a rabid raccoon on your property, contact a licensed animal control specialist.
  • Keep pets' rabies vaccinations up to date. If a domesticated animal becomes infected with rabies, the animal may expose any human with whom it comes into contact. The affected animal must be put down, and humans who have had contact with the animal would need to seek immediate medical treatment.


For additional information about rabies, visit the Monongalia County Health Department website or contact the Environmental Health Services Division at 304-598-5131.