South Humphrey Avenue Home is Crawling with Critters
Neighbors say vacant property is a haven for raccoons.
We read this story on Wednesday Journal about raccoons that have invaded a vacant carriage house in south Oak Park and decided to check things out for ourselves.
We'll cop to getting a little spooked — the property is dilapidated and the weeds are overgrown. Look close at the chimney and you'll see that it's about to collapse.
But one thing we didn't see during a recent visit is raccoons.
Still, it's clear that the property at 1145 S. Humphrey Ave. has a critter problem, one the Illinois Department of Natural Resources says can pose dangers to neighboring human beings and wildlife:
Concerns include the spread of diseases and parasites, damage to crops and homes, and predation on other wildlife, including some endangered species.
The property is in foreclosure, which makes local enforcement by the Village of Oak Park tricky. Still, neighbors like Tara Schaafsma say they've taken matters into their own hands by setting traps themselves.
As village officials and residents grapple with a solution, here are some tips from the Illinois DNR to prevent a prevalence of raccoons, and for ambitious do-it-yourselfers looking to trap the critters themselves (you'll need a Nuisance Animal Removal Permit). A complete list of information for the DNR is attached as a PDF.
PREVENTING PROBLEMS WITH RACCOONS:
- Do not encourage raccoons by feeding them
- Keep pet food and watering dishes indoors, especially at night
- Use metal or durable plastic trash containers
- Secure lids with elastic shock cords that are available at most hardware stores.
- Use bird feeders that are equipped with a gravity-operated treadle to prevent access by squirrels and raccoons. Don't allow spillage to accumulate
- Install chimney caps before raccoons move in. Hardware cloth (use 1/2" x 1/2" mesh) provides an economical alternative, but it must be secured tightly. Leave a peak or dome over the flue to prevent accumulation of leaves and sticks
- Install hardware cloth (1/2" x 1/2" mesh) on the inside of attic vents and fan openings
- Repair broken, weak or rotten areas on your roof soffit and fascia
- Trim tree limbs that provide raccoons easy access to your roof.
TIPS FOR THE D-I-Y TRAPPER:
- DO NOT attempt to catch an adult female that's caring for helpless young unless you first locate the young and are certain you can remove them by hand. During spring and summer, check adults to determine their sex and whether or not females are nursing young (look for swollen teats). If you catch a nursing female and don't know where the young are, release the female
- Use non-meat baits like marshmallows, jam, watermelon, or sweet breakfast cereals. They last longer in hot weather and won't be nearly as attractive to pets.
- Place trap near an entry point to better target the animals causing problems. If possible, put the trap on a solid substrate like a board or concrete.
- Stake or wire traps securely in place. When setting a trap on your roof, first fasten it to a sheet of plywood to avoid damages to shingles; if possible, fasten the plywood to the roof to keep it from sliding off
- Check the trap every day before you go to bed and again when you wake up
- Do not keep young raccoons as pets. It's unlawful and can be dangerous
- Playing a portable radio and placing flashing lights in enclosed areas may help to evict raccoons. Ammonia or mothballs may also work, but DO NOT use these chemicals if helpless young are present; they may be overcome by fumes.
- Place mothballs or an ammonia-soaked rag in the denning area shortly before sunset. If using this method for evicting raccoons from a chimney, lower the rag or a stocking filled with mothballs on a string so you can remove it later
- Watch your hands. Raccoons can move quickly and bite viciously
- Place trap in a shady location, especially during the summer months. If you must leave an animal in the trap until you return from work, move the trap to a location where it will be shaded all day and provide drinking water
- Seal or repair entry points to avoid future problems