Raccoons & Wildlife

FOUND A BABY ANIMAL? Please scroll to the bottom of the page for more information. 

Although Philadelphia is a large city, it is not uncommon to observe wildlife walking about on neighborhood streets—even during the daylight hours.

If you are concerned about wildlife near your property, there are several precautions you can take:

  1. Ensure all garbage cans are securely closed with a lid.  Do not leave bags of trash in front of your property or on the sidewalk.  Most wildlife are drawn to the smell of trash and, if they can access it easily, will consider your property a nice place to eat.
  2. Do not put food on the ground for birds or other animals.  If you are feeding birds, make sure you use a commercial bird feeder that wildlife cannot access.  If you are feeding feral cats, always place food in a container and pick it up after a short time.
  3. Repair all holes and openings in your roof, siding, porch, etc.  Wildlife will often gain entry to properties through weak structures and take up residence.
  4. Use Philly311 to contact Philadelphia License and Inspections and report abandoned or dilapidated homes and city code violations in your area that wildlife has inhabited.
  5. Check out information on Raccoon and Skunk deterrents distributed by the Philadelphia Health Department. Raccoon Information
  6. Access the Pennsylvania Game Commission website or the Schuylkill Center website for information on many types of wildlife found in Philadelphia and tips on how to deter these animals from your property.
ACCT Philly will respond to a raccoon/wildlife complaint in the following scenarios:
  1. If the animal is in a common area of the home. For example: the animal is in an area of the home such as the living room or bedroom.  They will not respond if the animal is in the walls, attic, or crawl space of the home.
  2. If the animal appears to be injured or sick. ACCT Philly will attempt to capture a visually verified sick/injured raccoon whether it is inside or outside of a dwelling.
ACCT Philly does not respond to raccoon/wildlife complaints when:
  1. A raccoon is located in the walls, attic, or roof areas of a dwelling (or any other areas that are not common areas). In these circumstances, you can either purchase a humane animal trap from a hardware or pest control retailer (such as Lowe’s or Home Depot), or contact a Licensed Wildlife Control (removal) agency.  ACCT Philly will retrieve a raccoon from your location once it has been trapped for a fee or you may deliver the raccoon to our 111 West Hunting Park Avenue location. *Please note per law that prohibits re-release, all adult raccoon brought to ACCT Philly are euthanized (killed).
  2. Healthy wildlife is found in yards, streets, parks, etc.  These animals should be left alone and trapping of healthy wildlife is prohibited under state law with the exception of certain, special circumstances.  If they are brought to the shelter, per law many CANNOT be relocated-they will be euthanized (killed).  Use the resources provided above to deter these animals from frequenting your neighborhood.

BATS
There are 8 species of bats that are common to Pennsylvania.  It is not unusual for residents of Philadelphia to observe bats flying around on summer evenings and sometimes observe them inside of their homes.  If you encounter a bat in your home, do not panic.  Chasing or swatting at the bat only causes it to fly erratically and will needlessly prolong the incident.

Contact ACCT Philly at 267-385-3800 to report a bat flying inside the living space of your home. Confine the bat to as small an area as possible.  If the bat was in a room where someone was asleep or where there were young children present, contact the Division of Disease Control at 215-685-6748 to report the incident.

If you realize that you have bats roosting in the non-living spaces of your home (usually in attics or crawl spaces) you will need to contact a Licensed Wildlife Control (removal) agency.  You can find more information on the Pennsylvania Game Commission website or the Schuylkill Center website  on what to do when you encounter roosting bats.

FOUND A BABY ANIMAL?
The best thing to do is leave the baby alone – the mother is most likely coming back!  For more information, please read the following press release from the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s:

SPRINGTIME ALERT – DO NOT DISTURB YOUNG WILDLIFE
Mothers of encountered young animals typical found nearby.

The leaves are green, the flowers are in bloom and, once again, it’s that time of year when a new generation of wildlife is making its arrival. And it’s almost a certainty that Pennsylvanians will encounter young wildlife, whether it be in their backyards or high on a mountain.“Being outdoors in the spring is an enjoyable way to spend time and learn more about nature,” said Calvin W. DuBrock, who directs the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Bureau of Wildlife Management. “Whether enjoying your backyard or hiking in the woods, it is time for our annual message for Pennsylvanians to leave wildlife alone and in the wild, especially young of the year.”

DuBrock said that in the coming days and weeks, Pennsylvanians could find young deer, rabbits, birds, raccoons or other wildlife, some of which might appear to be abandoned. “Rest assured that in most cases, the young animal is not an orphan or abandoned and the best thing you can do is to leave it alone,” DuBrock advised.

DuBrock noted adult animals often leave their young while the adults forage for food. Also, wildlife often relies on a natural defensive tactic called the “hider strategy,” where young animals will remain motionless and “hide” in surrounding cover while adults draw the attention of potential predators or other intruders away from their young.

“While it may appear as if the adults are abandoning their young, in reality, this is just the animal using its natural instincts to protect its young,” DuBrock said. “Also, young animals often have camouflaging color patterns to avoid being detected by predators.

“Wild animals are not meant to be pets, and we must all resist our well-meaning and well-intentioned urge to want to care for wildlife. Taking wildlife from its natural settings and into your home may expose or transmit wildlife diseases to people or domestic animals. Wildlife also may carry parasites – such as fleas, ticks or lice – that you wouldn’t want infesting you, your family, your home or your pets.”

DuBrock noted that, each year, people ignore this advice by taking wildlife into their homes and then are urged to undergo treatment for possible exposure to various wildlife-borne diseases, such as rabies.

In addition to protecting public health, Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Protection Director Rich Palmer said that the agency also is concerned with wildlife implications from humans handling wildlife.

“Habituating wildlife to humans is a serious concern, because if wildlife loses its natural fear of humans it can pose a public safety risk,” Palmer said. “For example, a few years ago, a yearling, six-point buck attacked and severely injured two people. Our investigation revealed that a neighboring family had illegally taken the deer into their home and fed it as a fawn. This family continued to feed the deer right up until the time of the attack.

“This particular incident was the subject of numerous news stories around the state, and serves as a fitting example of the possible consequences that can stem from feeding or simply getting too close to wildlife.”

In addition, Palmer noted that it is illegal to take or possess wildlife from the wild. Under state law, the penalty for such a violation is a fine of up to $1,500 per animal.

“Under no circumstances will anyone who illegally takes wildlife into captivity be allowed to keep that animal,” Palmer said. “While residents love to view wildlife and are very compassionate, they must enjoy wildlife from a distance and allow nature to run its course.”

Palmer also pointed out that, under a working agreement with state health officials, any “high risk” rabies vector species confiscated after human contact must be euthanized and tested; it cannot be returned to the wild. Though any mammal may carry rabies, species identified in the agreement are: skunks, raccoons, foxes, bats, coyotes and groundhogs.

“Except for some species of bats, populations of all other rabies vector species are thriving,” Palmer said. “Therefore, to protect public health and safety, it only makes sense to put down an animal for testing, rather than risk relocating a potentially rabid animal, and to answer the question of whether any people were exposed to the rabies virus.”

DuBrock said it is always wise to avoid wild animals and even unfamiliar domestic pets because of the potential rabies risk.

“Animals infected with rabies may not show obvious symptoms, but still may be able to transmit the disease,” DuBrock said.

People can get rabies from the saliva of a rabid animal if they are bitten or scratched, or if the saliva gets into the person’s eyes, mouth or a fresh wound. The last human rabies fatality in Pennsylvania was a 12 year old Lycoming County boy who died in 1984.

Wildlife rehabilitators, who are licensed by the Game Commission, are the only ones who are permitted to care for injured or orphaned wildlife for the purposes of eventual release back into the wild. For those who find wildlife that truly is in need of assistance, a listing of licensed wildlife rehabilitators can be found on the Pennsylvania Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators website (www.pawr.com).

If you are unable to identify a wildlife rehabilitator in your area, contact the Game Commission region office that serves the county in which the animal is found so that you can be referred to the appropriate licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Region office contact information can be found on the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) by putting your cursor over “ABOUT US” in the menu bar in the banner at the top of the homepage, and then clicking on “Region Information” in the drop-down menu listing.