Case Studies

Wildlife Removal Case Studies: Raccoons climb easily into Long Branch, NJ home

Tuesday, October 17th, 2017 by Bill Cowley

Challenge

I was sent to an apartment building that Cowleys services in Long Branch, NJ to resolve an active wildlife infestation involving raccoons. Raccoons have adapted well to human habitats and, in fact, thrive in them. The enjoy a virtually endless supply of our food scraps in our garbage, many private places to nest, and a general lack of predators (since in Long Branch cougars, bobcats and coyotes are rare and few between!) Raccoons are large animals that can weigh more than 20 pounds, so squirrels and other rodents don’t scare them in the least. Raccoons are omnivorous and opportunistic eaters that will devour almost anything in sight.They also have extremely dexterous paws that resemble human hands that can grasp and open a variety of objects including doorknobs, jars, and latches.

Whenever I’m dealing with a wildlife infestation in an apartment building or large commercial structure, it is critical to determine not only the access point into the structure but also how they are managing to get all the way to the roof in the first place considering the height of the building. Soffits, which form the ceiling between the building wall and the eaves, are a prime location for wildlife to gain access inside the building. While wildlife can chew and claw their way through perfectly good soffits, water-damaged soffits are particularly prone to wildlife intrusions. Also, while residential soffits are often limited to squirrel problems, larger structures like this apartment building have soffits that are wide enough for larger animals like raccoons to gain attic entry.

But I wanted to know how the raccoons were able to get to soffit level on such a large building. As I mentioned, raccoons are extremely dexterous with their hands and have excellent climbing ability. There are enough gripping points on a brick wall face for raccoons to climb straight up. The problem they face, however, is that once they reach the soffit it’s far too wide for them to lean back and grab the gutter or edge of the roof. These soffits were very wide and there was no way that even a super-climbing raccoon would be able to overcome that obstacle. 

Solution

While inspecting the building’s perimeter looking for possible raccoon climbing routes, I noticed a tall tree that had a few branches overhanging the roof. Raccoons are not good jumpers like acrobatic squirrels. However, they can climb straight climb out on a limb and then drop down on the roof. But that was all speculation, and I wanted hard evidence! I soon found my answer. A closer look revealed some raccoon fur stuck to the bark of the tree. I had no doubt that this was how the raccoon was able to find its way to the roof. 

Next, to track the raccoon’s route, I needed to go to the roof in the same area where the raccoon had landed. Usually, I’m able to find droppings that make a “path” right to where the animals are entering the structure. Here, droppings led me to the access point — some fascia board that was about 25 yards from the tree limb. Once located, I installed two traps and marked the access with tape. When a raccoon passes through the tape it will break and have fur stuck to it. This reveals whether there is still active activity of animals going in and out of the building. This is an example of working smart instead of working hard. By following the evidence I was able to determine how the raccoon as able to gain roof access and then access inside the building. Otherwise, I would have had to potentially put up a ladder on every side of the building and inspect the entire roofline to determine the access point.