Raccoons are a huge problem no matter what time of the year it is.
In the winter, there are two things that will drive a raccoon to be more of a bother than usual: the search for food and the search for shelter. It’s really no different than with any other winter scavenger, except that a raccoon’s size and intelligence can lead to more havoc.
Raccoon do not strictly hibernate during the winter, though they are known to sleep for days or even weeks at a time. So you may not see them very often, or they might seem to come and go at odd intervals.
Searching for Food
For regions with snowy and cold conditions, it is a tough time of year for any wildlife to find food. Raccoons are notorious omnivores and will eat just about anything, so any type of food material within their reach is going to be at risk. For most people, that means your garbage. A standard garbage can lid will not deter a raccoon for more than 10 seconds, no matter how tight it seems.
You can either store your garbage inside or invest in a sturdy critter-proof bin that has secure latches. Winter bird feeders can also be a potent raccoon lure, especially if you have peanuts or sunflower seeds in the mix. For bird feeders, try adding a repellent pack nearby so you can still enjoy the birds without attracting raccoon attention.
Looking for Shelter
Raccoons will usually live in underground dens, but will happily adapt to a quiet spot under your garage or garden shed if the opportunity arises. Their agile fingers are excellent at prying away screens, siding, or any other obstacle that might get in their way. Take extra care to board up spaces, secure vent grates and just generally block any possible access to areas that might be suitable for a winter den.
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There is one other thing that can drive a raccoon to invade your space: curiosity. Unlike other animals, they can put a lot of effort to get into things that have no purpose whatsoever, just for something to do. This is difficult to deal with because you can’t really predict where they’ll end up.
One small detail that can make dealing with raccoons in the winter actually easier than other seasons is that you can watch for their tracks in the snow. They are very distinctive, looking like little human hands with 5 clear fingers in each print.
Seeing raccoon tracks means you should start taking extra care with any outdoor garbage and watch for any damage around the outside of your house or garage. If they are already causing problems, use the tracks to get an idea of where they are coming in from. Use a strong repellent where you see them spending the time to have the best effect to keeping raccoons out of trouble around your house.