Keep wild animal wild; Why feeding raccoons is a no-no | Kitsap Week

Ask Erin. - Richard Walker
Ask Erin.
— image credit: Richard Walker

Dear Erin,

My neighbor thinks it is cute to feed the raccoons that live in the area. She often leaves bowls of dog food on her deck and remarks how adorable it is when the raccoons come calling.

I'm worried that she's endangering the neighborhood by encouraging raccoons to visit.

Do you have any suggestions?

Riled up about raccoons in Rolling Bay

Dear Riled up,

Those masked creatures may be adorable, but feeding them causes problems for raccoons, people and pets.

I asked Mike Pratt, director of wildlife services for West Sound Wildlife, about your problem.

He said it's a bad idea to feed raccoons either accidentally by leaving out pet food, or on purpose.

Raccoons are opportunistic and will take the easy road when searching for food. Why struggle to find food when there is a tasty bowl of kibble sitting on the deck?

“Raccoons are one of the most adaptable wild critters,” Pratt said. Feeding them just once or twice could cause them to set up their den under the deck, he said.

Feeding the animals also causes them to lose their fear of people. This could result with raccoons entering a home through an open door or even biting people or pets.

Just because your neighbor loves raccoons doesn't mean others feel the same. And once raccoons are fed, they may try their luck at other's homes. This is dangerous for the raccoons, because less raccoon-friendly neighbors may poison or shoot them.

Practically every day, the West Sound Wildlife Center receives calls about conflicts with raccoons. Pratt points out that raccoons need to stay wild and not be treated as pets.

Keep pet food indoors and secure lids on trash cans. Because of our cool spring and summer, wild food for raccoons has been scarce. Normally raccoons are nocturnal, but when they are hungry, they come out at all hours. Resist the temptation to feed them.

As for your neighbor, clip this article and show it to her. She probably believes she's helping out hungry animals, but in fact she's doing a disservice to the ’coons, to herself and her neighbors.

— Ask Erin is a feature of Kitsap Week. Have a question? Write Ask Erin, Kitsap Week, P.O. Box 278, Poulsbo 98370 or email






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