Can I Shoot a Raccoon on My Property? (Is This Legal?)

Can I Shoot a Raccoon on My Property

Raccoons are mischievous creatures that can wreak havoc on your property. If you are thinking of ways to get rid of the raccoons for good, it has likely crossed your mind if you can shoot a raccoon on your property. But, is this legal?

As long as you’re not within city limits, most states will allow you to shoot a raccoon if it is damaging your property. But, in all other cases, you will likely have to hold a valid hunting license and be within the designated hunting season to shoot a raccoon legally. 

However, these laws will vary depending on which state you live in. We will fill in all the blanks you might have regarding the laws and also let you know why you have raccoons in your yard and how you can prevent them from visiting in the future. 

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

Shooting raccoons is legal in most states as long as the raccoon is acting as a nuisance. However, shooting anything is illegal if you live in a city.

So, you will have to find another way to remove the raccoons.

Here are our favorite raccoon repelling tools:

1. Motion-Activated Sprinkler – Perfect for spraying away the raccoons

2. Peppermint Rodent Repellent Spray – An all-natural repellent safe for your vegetation and pets

3. Cayenne Pepper Powder – An easy solution that raccoons hate to smell

The Laws On Killing Raccoons

Before you start planning out your raccoon eviction, you need to check with your state’s laws on killing raccoons. These will vary depending on the state but some common laws do apply to most states. 

Is It Illegal to Kill Raccoons?

Most states agree that you can kill a raccoon on your property if it is acting as a nuisance. But, when this is not the case, states begin to vary on whether or not it is lawful to kill a raccoon.

For example, in Washington, you are allowed to kill a raccoon any time of the year as long as it is being a nuisance- damaging crops or gardens or injuring pets and livestock. 

But in New York, even when the raccoon is acting as a nuisance, you can only kill the raccoon if it is during the specified hunting or trapping season and you have the appropriate sporting license. 

Whereas some states, including Louisiana, have continuous seasons for hunting raccoons so you can kill a raccoon any time of the year, even if it is not being a nuisance, as long as you have a hunting license. 

You might also enjoy our post on If You Can Shoot a Bear on Your Property

Can I Shoot a Raccoon in My Yard?

You can shoot a raccoon in your yard if your state permits raccoon hunting, if you live in a rural area, and if it is raccoon hunting season. If you live in a city, it is likely illegal to shoot at anything.

States have varying laws on killing raccoons so it is important to check with your specific state laws before deciding to shoot a raccoon to avoid any legal repercussions.

Some states will allow you to kill a nuisance raccoon any time of the year while in other states you can only kill them if it is within the raccoon hunting season. 

Also, some states, mainly the southern ones, allow you to kill them any time of the year even if they are not being a nuisance, as long as you hold a valid hunting license. 

In regards to where in the state you live, most cities have laws against shooting anything within city limits. On the other hand, if you live in a rural area, you are more likely to be allowed to shoot animals.

Places Where It Is Illegal to Kill Raccoons

Most states agree that is illegal to kill raccoons if it is not being a nuisance during closed hunting seasons. If you are caught killing a raccoon in these states, you may get charged for animal abuse. 

Raccoons are protected in most states and have specific seasons for hunting.

If you come across a raccoon during the closed season, and the raccoon is not being a nuisance, you are not legally allowed to kill the raccoon in any way.

If you need to relocate the raccoon, you need to trap it in a way that does not cause injury. 

Places Where It Is Always Legal to Kill Raccoons

Louisiana is a state that allows the killings of raccoons all year long. You still have to hold a valid hunting license, unless the raccoon is being a nuisance. If the raccoon is being a nuisance, you are allowed to kill it any time of the year.

These laws only apply if you live in a rural area. You are not allowed to shoot a raccoon within city limits. However, you can kill it in other ways if you do live in the city. 

If the raccoon is being a nuisance, you are allowed to shoot it (in rural areas) even if you do not have a hunting license.

You only need a firearm license and approval from the owner of the land if the raccoon is not on your property.

Are Raccoons Protected?

Raccoons are protected in most states in America, classified as furbearers. There are designated hunting seasons when you are allowed to hunt raccoons, making it illegal to kill them any time of the year unless the raccoon is damaging your property. 

If you experience an encounter with a raccoon anytime in closed raccoon hunting season, and the raccoon is not acting as a nuisance, you can not legally harm or kill a raccoon in any way.

This is considered inhumane and animal abuse. 

You might also enjoy our post on If You Can Shoot a Deer on Your Property

Is There a Fine for Killing a Raccoon?

If you unlawfully kill a raccoon, you will likely get charged with animal abuse. Your fine will depend on how you killed the raccoon and where you live as states have different laws regarding this matter.

For example, in Illinois, if you are caught engaging in animal abuse, you will get prosecuted under a Class B misdemeanor. The punishment will be jail time of up to six months. 

How to Handle a Raccoon

Now that we have determined the varying laws on shooting a raccoon, let’s discuss how you can go about dealing with raccoons that are in your yard.

Keep in mind your state’s laws on killing raccoons before you decide on a specific method. 

How Do You Catch a Raccoon?

An effective way to catch a raccoon is to set up an animal trap, one that will not cause any harm. You can lure the raccoon in with bait such as fish, bacon, and fresh vegetables.

You’ll want to set up your animal trap somewhere the raccoon often goes. This will require some detective work on your part. Keep an eye out for raccoon tracks, dropping, and/or property damage. 

Make sure the trap is properly secured so the raccoon can’t escape once it is trapped. You can use a brick or a large rock to do this.

This is important because raccoons are very powerful animals, even though they may appear small and innocent. 

Where Do You Shoot a Raccoon?

Shooting a raccoon is typically one of the easiest, quickest, and most convenient ways to kill a raccoon. If you can, shoot the raccoon in the head, this will be the most effective shot.

You should only shoot the raccoon when it is trapped so you can be certain that you kill it. It would be terrible to shoot the raccoon in somewhere like the foot and the raccoon runs off and bleeds to death alone. 

What Do You Do When You Kill a Raccoon?

You need to be very careful when you dispose of raccoons since they can carry harmful diseases. You should check with your city’s health department to see if they have any specific disposal protocols you need to follow. 

But, in most cases, you should either bury, burn, or send the raccoon to a landfill. When handling the raccoon, wear thick protective gloves. Place the raccoon in a garbage bag and then double bag it. 

How Far Do You Have to Take a Raccoon So It Won’t Come Back?

It is recommended to bring a raccoon a minimum of five miles away from the original location, even ten miles is acceptable. But, there are laws about relocating raccoons so check with your local animal control first. 

Raccoons are very smart creatures with an excellent sense of direction. They are very aware of their original territory and its surroundings, so they have to be taken very far to not be able to find their way back home. 

Before relocating a raccoon, you need to check with your local animal control center about the laws that apply to this. In an effort to control rabies, some states make it illegal to transport raccoons on your own. 

You might also enjoy our post on If You Can Shoot a Squirrel in Your Backyard

Who to Call if There Are Raccoons in My Backyard?

You should call your city’s local animal control department if you find raccoons in your backyard. They will know how to properly handle a raccoon and where to relocate them that is safe for raccoons and for humans.

You should avoid contacting private animal control centers as they are not always regulated and may not have the animal’s best interest at heart.

Official animal control centers related to your city are your best option because they work directly with the law and will know how to deal with raccoons legally and humanely.

They will likely have a field team this is experienced with raccoons. 

Why You Have Raccoons in Your Yard

Now that we have determined how to deal with the raccoons in your yard, let’s discuss why they are attracted to your yard in the first place.

It is important to keep raccoons away from your yard because they can carry harmful diseases and possibly injure your pets. 

Why Is My Yard Attracting Raccoons?

Raccoons are most commonly attracted to garbage and food waste in your outside garbage cans. They can also be attracted to gardens and fruit trees, or any pet food that you might leave outside.

Apart from the obvious food attractants, raccoons are also attracted to woodpiles. They will take your perfectly stacked pieces of wood and turn them into a rent-free condo at any chance they get. 

What Is Irresistible to Raccoons?

Raccoons cannot resist the smell and taste of garbage and leftover food scraps. They are constantly hunting for food for themselves and for their young so easy-to-access scraps left in outdoor garbage cans are a prize to them. 

Keeping your garbage cans either locked up or secured with a heavy brick or rock will help keep the raccoons from creating a disaster in your yard.

You can also keep the garbage in your garage until pick-up day. 

What Smells Do Raccoons Love?

Raccoons are attracted to the smells of any food, especially sweet foods, and fresh vegetables. This is likely why you will find raccoons rummaging through your garbage late at night. 

If you have garbage left outside, this is likely what is causing raccoons to come into your property. Raccoons can smell food from very away and will not stop until they find it.

This also includes any birdfeed or pet food that may be left out. 

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What Are Raccoons Attracted To?

Raccoons are attracted to garbage and food scraps. If you leave any outside of your home, it is very possible that raccoons will find it and create a very large mess.

Raccoons are also attracted to the following:

  • Wood piles
  • Bird feeders
  • Open spaces
  • Garden beds
  • Sheds and garages
  • Fish ponds
  • Dog houses
  • Chicken coops

Why Is a Raccoon Hanging Around My House?

Raccoons typically hang around houses that serve some sort of purpose for them. This can be anything from providing food to providing a new home to raise their young in.

To keep your house from attracting raccoons, you should not leave any sort of food outside such as pet food, compost, birdseed, and garbage and foods scraps.

Also, keep your yard free of any piles of wood or rubbage. 

How to Prevent Raccoons From Coming Into Your Yard

Strategic prevention methods are your best tactic to keep those unwanted critters out of your yard so you never even have to think about catching or harming them.

Let’s discover ways to keep raccoons out of your yard for good.

How to Keep Raccoons Out of Your Yard?

The most effective way to keep raccoons out of your yard is to not leave any food or garbage out. This is what attracts raccoons to your yard the most. Keeping a clean yard will help your situation greatly. 

Another way to keep your yard clean and less attractive to raccoons is to keep the grass mowed and the bushes neat. Raccoons love a place to hide and rest in and will not look any further than an overgrown property.

How Do You Keep Raccoons off Your Property?

To keep raccoons off of your property, you can create a deterrent spray, or purchase one. You can also use light and sound as raccoons tend to be afraid of bright lights and loud noises.

Spraying a deterrent spray around your property is an effective way to keep raccoons away. You can either spray the deterrent spray directly on vegetation or soak rags in the spray and leave them around your property.

You can also install motion-activated sensor lights to prevent the raccoons from setting up a new home in your yard.

Raccoons are known to look for a home that is quiet and dark and therefore will not feel like your yard is suitable since it is bright. 

How Do You Get Rid of Raccoons in Your Yard?

If you are dealing with raccoons in your yard, you likely have food left out that is attracting them. You should eliminate all food that is left outside and secures all garbage cans, as well. 

Once the raccoons realize that they cannot source food from your property anymore, they may look for a new place to live.

However, if you do not have the time to wait for raccoons to leave, you can call an animal control center to have the raccoons removed. 

You might also enjoy our post on If It Is Illegal to Shoot Birds in Your Backyard

How Do You Get Rid of Raccoons Fast?

If you want to get rid of raccoons fast, you can create a deterrent spray with ingredients that you may already have around the house. Raccoons are particularly unfond of spicy smells, so creating a cayenne pepper spray can go a long way.

To create a cayenne pepper spray, make a small bottle of cayenne pepper with a bottle of hot sauce, and add the mixture to a gallon of water. Spray this solution around the areas where you think the raccoons are living.

If you are unsure of where they are living, you can spray the solution around garbage cans and bushes. 

How Do You Get Rid of Raccoons Naturally?

To get rid of raccoons naturally, you can make a natural deterrent spray out of ingredients that raccoons are known to dislike. Or, you can set up a motion-activated sprinkler system.

While the latter is more expensive, it can be a great way to completely prevent raccoons from coming into your yard.

Raccoons will eventually associate the sprinkler with danger and completely right off your yard as somewhere to visit. 

What Are Raccoons Afraid Of?

Raccoons are naturally afraid of light and sound. Since raccoons are nocturnal animals, being exposed to light and sound can catch them off guard and cause them to run away.

Setting up motion-activated lights can scare off a raccoon, but using just lights likely be enough. You will also likely have to create some loud noise to officially scare the raccoon away.

If you live in a rural area, you can play low to medium rock music on an outdoor radio and that should do the trick.

What Do Raccoons Hate the Most?

Since raccoons have a very strong sense of smell, they hate anything that has a harsh scent.  Ammonia is a great solution to ward off any unwanted raccoons as the smell will be too strong for them to handle and will send them running. 

Thankfully, ammonia is an easy product to get your hands on. You can rub a little ammonia on anything you want to protect from a raccoon or create a deterrent spray with ammonia and spray it around your property. 

You can also soak rags in ammonia and place the legs around your property or in specific areas where the raccoons are most prevalent. 

You might also enjoy our post on How To Get Rid of Raccoons in Your Yard

Related Questions

Why Are Raccoons Illegal as Pets?

Raccoons are not recommended as pets because they are wild animals and quite unpredictable. They tend to have an unpredictable temperament which can make them dangerous to you and your family. 

To put it simply, raccoons are just not suitable to have as pets based on their personalities. Raccoons are extremely energetic and naturally like to destroy things.

If you are capable of providing them an environment that will satisfy their own natural tendencies, then you can consider having a raccoon.

 However, you should keep in mind that raccoons are not easy to train or tame. They are not like dogs and are difficult to domesticate.

Is It Illegal to Kill Raccoons in Colorado?

You are legally allowed to kill a raccoon in Colorado if it is acting as a nuisance. However, if this is not the case, you’re only allowed to kill raccoons during the designated hunting season and if you have a hunting license. 

Although it is legal to kill a raccoon in Colorado if it’s acting as a nuisance, you should consider death as the last option. There are other ways to capture a raccoon and relocate it so that it does not bother your property anymore.

Is It Illegal to Kill Raccoons in New York?

Raccoons are protected by law in New York and you need a license to hunt or trap one. However, if the raccoon is destroying your property, you are allowed to kill the raccoon yourself without a license. 

You should keep in mind that if you kill a raccoon because it is acting as a nuisance, you should be prepared to have proof that the raccoon was actually damaging your property. 

If you are caught killing a raccoon that was not damaging your property or acting as a nuisance in any way, you may get charged with animal abuse. 

Final Thoughts

We understand how much damage a raccoon can cause to your property and to your pets. But, killing them should always be your last option.

Raccoons digging through your garbage is the equivalent of you going to the grocery store. They are just trying to feed themselves and their family. 

If you have another option apart from shooting the raccoon, you should take it. In most cases, you can call an Animal Control Center and they will pick the raccoon up for you and relocate it to an area where they think is best.

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