The main predator for raccoons is the motor vehicle, the speaker said.
By MONICA BOND
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
VIENNA -- Take away one of an animal's three necessities -- food, water or shelter -- and that animal will not hang around.
That's what Jerrod Allison of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources told the Vienna Township Neighborhood Watch on Monday.
Allison spoke to residents about practical ways to deal with wildlife nuisances, particularly raccoons, coyotes, deer and bears.
The raccoon population has gone up more than 500 percent in the past 10 years, Allison said.
"We don't have any natural predators for them -- their only predator is the fast-moving Chevy," he said.
Allison said raccoons are kept in check through regulated trapping and hunting, but fur-bearing animals are not as valuable as they once were, reducing the number of people trapping them.
There are many options for dealing with so-called nuisance animals, which include raccoons, possums, skunks and groundhogs, Allison said.
However, poison can't be used against them because it is not species-specific and could kill the neighbors' cat, dog or any other animal that ate it, Allison explained. The poison could also harm animals that eat dead raccoons, such as bald eagles.
Options include trapping or shooting the animals. Any raccoon that is trapped must be released where it was captured or euthanized, because Trumbull County is under quarantine for rabies, Allison said; the animal cannot be caught here then released somewhere else.
He noted that there are ways to make residential areas less attractive to wildlife, including:
UNot putting out the trash until just before it is picked up or putting a cement block on the garbage can lid ("I have yet to meet the raccoon that can pick up a cement block," Allison said).
UNot leaving pet food out all the time.
UNever feed the wildlife.
An electric fence is an effective way to keep wildlife out of gardens. Allison recommended three strands of electric fence tape: one at hip height, one at knee height and one at ankle height. The high wire deters deer, and the middle wire will catch animals that try to crawl over the bottom wire.
They're unlikely to come back if they're shocked, Allison said.
Chicken wire is required to keep out rabbits, because they are not grounded and can't be shocked when jumping through the wires.
Using owls, motion lights and radios to frighten wildlife away works only if the objects are moved every few days, because the animals get used to them.
Allison said coyotes are good wild animals to have around in one respect, because they will help control the rabbits and raccoons.
However, he said, they do pose a threat to pets.
"Cats, mostly; it's not very likely they'll go after small dogs," he said. "[However], there's enough small game and natural food for them; they'd rather eat a mouse than your cat."
He said coyotes are not very big, usually about 30 pounds.
Bears should not be a concern, either, Allison said. There have only been three confirmed bear sightings in Trumbull County this year.
"A bear is a great big raccoon; he'd rather knock over your trash can or grill than attack you," he said.
The only bears that will be in Trumbull County are black bears, which can be black, brown or cinnamon-colored. Most of the bears are juvenile males, and weigh 150 to 200 pounds. If a bear jiggles when he moves, he's a big bear; if his ears are visible; he's pretty small, Allison said.
Bears are only trapped or tranquilized if they become a danger to themselves or to others. Doughnuts are the food of choice for bears -- "just like police officers," Allison quipped, adding that bears would rather eat berries and dead meat than hunt down a live animal.