Hello, warm weather. Hello, raccoons.

Peter Pekelny, owner of Pro Pest Investigations and Solutions (Robin Dhanju/Toronto Observer)
Peter Pekelny, owner of Pro Pest Investigations and Solutions (Robin Dhanju/Toronto Observer)

The warmer weather is finally here, and for some homeowners, that means cleaning the shed or attic and finding a pair of eyes staring back at you.

Whether they’re nesting in your attic or sifting through your trash at night, raccoons can find all sorts of ways to pose a nuisance and cause damage.

They’re very adaptable animals and have no major predators in the city, which has seen their population escalate over the years. However, Nathalie Karvonen, executive director of the Toronto Wildlife Centre, believes that the population may be decreasing due to the spread of canine distemper.

“There isn’t anyone counting raccoons per se, but I really quite doubt that their population is increasing right now because this epidemic is so serious. It’s been going on for roughly 10 years now,” Karvonen said.

Karvonen also mentioned that the disease is spreadable to other animals; however, most domestic dogs are vaccinated against the virus.

Raccoons that do have the disease tend to exhibit odd behavior.

“They might be walking around in the middle of the day in pouring rain with a bunch of people walking around and not care. They won’t care about ignoring people or getting out of the rain,” Karvonen said.

The best course of action when it comes to ridding yourself of a raccoon problem is to pest-proof your home. Companies such as Pro Pest specialize in pest-proofing along with removing the animal — because they must release them in the same neighbourhood.

“Normally, when we get them out, we have to leave them in the same area.  We are not allowed to transport them to let’s say, Mississauga or Pickering because they are territorial animals,” said Peter Pekelny, owner of Pro Pest.

Pekelny believes that simply removing the animal is not the answer anyway. It is better to co-habitate with them because they will always be around.

He says that the best way to protect your home is to fortify the exterior. The best way to do that is to make sure that there are no entry points or points of weakness on your roof and outer walls. Also:

*Use Raccoon-proof garbage cans or put the garbage out in the morning.

*If the raccoons are in a small, contained area, you can use ammonia rags to drive them out.

*Use bear or wolf urine (commercially available) to “mark” your territory and keep raccoons away.