Midwest Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation

Raccoons (Plain HTML)

A downloadable PDF version of these documents is also available.

Raccoons and Turtle Conservation (Plain HTML)

Raccoons, Procyon lotor, are a well known predator of eggs, hatchlings, and adult turtles. Some populations of turtles experience complete nest failure for many successive years due to raccoon predation. The variability in annual reproductive output and time to reach to sexual maturity causes some Midwestern species to be more greatly impacted by raccoons than other species.

Throughout most of the Midwest data indicates that raccoon populations are at record highs. Several factors are contributing to these numbers, but human subsidies have a large impact. Subsidies are provided not only in the form of increased food availability, but also in the form of additional human supplied refuge. Human supplied food subsidies come in the form of agricultural byproducts, garbage, and intentional feeding.

With the increasing suburbanization of our natural areas, raccoons are getting unneeded and unprecedented human assistance. At the same time, as natural areas become developed turtle populations become fragmented. This fragmentation disrupts population connectedness and exacerbates the effects of elevated raccoon predation.

Although raccoon predation is not the only conservation issue facing our Midwestern turtles, it is an important and significant source of turtle mortality. It is the position of Midwest PARC that efforts should be made to control raccoon populations, especially around critical turtle habitat. Turtles in general are extremely long lived and may benefit from even periodic relief from this source of predation.

Discourage feeding of raccoons. Make efforts to eliminate sources of garbage that may be accessible to raccoons. Do not feed wildlife.

Check local wildlife regulation. Releasing, rehabilitating, and feeding may already be illegal in many states or municipalities. Where present these regulations need to be enforced.

Do not provide raccoons with refuge. Secure vacant buildings to eliminate resident raccoons. Repair areas within used structures to ensure raccoons don’t take up residents.

Open land to trapping. Most states allow for raccoon trapping. Developing a relationship with local trapper may be a viable solution. Care should always be taken to follow state trapping regulations.

Manage Raccoon populations. In some locations it may be most beneficial to initiate a raccoon control program, in accordance with local regulations. Raccoon control can easily be achieved by systematic trapping and elimination of captured raccoons. Raccoons should be humanely dispatched in accordance with the American Veterinary Medical Associations guidelines for euthanasia (http://www.avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/euthanasia.pdf). In the majority of studies, removal of raccoons has had a measurable impact on turtle populations. Whenever possible, raccoon management and turtle populations should be monitored in an effort to document your results.

Please see http://www.mwparc.org/products/raccoons/ (next section below) for a List of Relevant Literature

Literature Relevant to Raccoons and Turtles (Plain HTML)

Anderson, S. 1981. The Raccoon (Procyon lotor) on St. Catherines Islands Georgia USA. 7. Nesting Sea Turtles and Foraging Raccoons. American Museum Novitates (2713):1-9.

Andre, J.B. and L. West. 1981. Nesting and Management of the Atlantic Loggerhead Caretta caretta caretta (Testudines; Cheloniidae) on Cape Island South Carolina USA. in 1979. Brimleyana (6):73-82.

Barton, B.T. and J.D. Roth. 2007. Raccoon Removal on Sea turtle Nesting Beaches. Journal of Wildlife Management 71(4):1234-7.

Boucher, T.P. and C. H. Ernst. 2004. Terrapene carolina carolina (Eastern box turtle). Herpetological Review 35(1):56-7.

Browne, C.L. and S. J. Hecnar. 2007. Species Loss and Shifting Population Structure of Freshwater Turtles Despite Habitat Protection. Biological Conservation 138(3-4):421-9.

Burke, R.L., C. M. Schneider and M. T. Dolinger. 2005. Cues Used by Raccoons to find Turtle Nests: Effects of flags, Human Scent, and Diamond-backed Terrapin Sign. Journal of Herpetology 39(2):312-5.

Butler, J. A., C. Broadhurst, M. Green, and Z. Mullin. (2004). Nesting, Nest Predation and Hatchling Emergance of the Carolina Diamondback Terrapin, Macroclemys terrapin centrata, in Northeastern Florida. American Midland Naturalist , 152 (1), 145-155.

Christiansen, J.L. and B.J. Gallaway. 1984. Raccoon Removal Nesting Success and Hatchling Emergence in Iowa USA Turtles with Special Reference to Kinosternon flavencens, Kinosternidae. Southwestern Naturalist 29(3):343-8.

Congdon, J.D., R.D. Nagle, O.M. Kinney, M. Osentoski, H. W. Avery, R. C. van Loben Sels, and D.W. Tinkle. 2000. Nesting Ecology and Embryo Mortality: Implications for Hatchling Success and Demography of Blanding's Turtles (Emydoidea blandingii). Chelonian Conservation and Biology 3(4):569-79.

Constance, B. L. and S. J. Hecnar. (2007). Species Loss and Shifting Population Structure of Freshwater Turtles Despite Habitat Protection. Biological Conservation , 138, 421-429.

Engeman, R.M., R.E. Martin, B. Constantin, R. Noel, and J. Woolard. 2003. Monitoring Predators to Optimize their Management for Marine Turtle Nest Protection. Biological Conservation 113(2):171-8.

Engeman, R.M., R.E. Martin, H. T. Smith, J. Woolard, C.K. Crady,S. A. Shwiff, B. Constantin, M. Stahl, and J. Griner. 2005. Dramatic reduction in Predation on Marine Turtle Nests Through Improved Predator Monitoring and Management. Oryx 39(3):318-26.

Garmestani, A. S. and H.F. Percival. 2005. Raccoon Removal Reduces Sea Turtle Nest Depredation in the Ten Thousand Islands of Florida. Southeastern Naturalist 4(3):469-72.

Geller, G. A. 2012. Reducing predation of freshwater turtle nests with a simple electric fence. Herpetological Review 43(3): 398-403.

Germano, D.J. 1999. Terrapene ornata luteola (Desert box turtle). Herpetological Review 30(1):40-1.

Herman, T.B., T.D. Power, B.R. Eaton. 1995. Status of Blanding's turtles, Emydoidea blandingii, in Nova Scotia, Canada. Canadian Field-Naturalist 109(2):182-91.

Jackson, D.R. and R.N. Walker. 1997. Reproduction in the Suwannee Cooter, Pseudemys concinna suwanniensis. Bulletin of the Florida Museum of Natural History 41(2):69-167.

Marchand, M.N., and J.A.Litvaitis. 2004. Effects of Landscape Composition, Habitat Features, and Nest Distribution on Predation Rates of Simulated Turtle Nests. Biological Conservation 117(3):243-51.

Mroziak, M.L., M. Salmon, and K. Rusenko. 2000. Do Wire Cages Protect Sea Turtles from Foot Traffic and Mammalian Predators? Chelonian Conservation and Biology 3(4):693-8.

Prange, S., S.D. Gehrt, and E. P. Wiggers. 2003. Demographic Factors Contributing to High Raccoon Densities in Urban Landscapes. Journal of Wildlife Management 67(2):234-333.

Ratnaswamy, M.J., and R. J. Warren. 1998. Removing Raccoons to Protect Sea Turtle Nests: Are there Implications for Ecosystem Management? Wildlife Society Bulletin 26(4):846-50.

Ratnaswamy, M.J., R.J. Warren, M.T. Kramer, and M.D. Adam. 1997. Comparisons of Lethal and Nonlethal Techniques to Reduce Raccoon Depredation of Sea Turtle Nests. Journal of Wildlife Management 61(2):368-76.

Stancyk, S.E., O.R. Talbert, and J.M. Dean. 1980. Nesting Activity of the Loggerhead Turtle Caretta caretta in South Carolina USA, 2. Protection of Nests from Raccoon Procyon lotor Predation by Transplantation. Biological Conservation 18(4):289-98.

Tuberville, T.D., Na V.J. Burke. 1994. Do Flag Markers Attract Turtle Nest Predators? Journal of Herpetology 28(4):514-6.

Warner, J.L. 2005. Glyptemys (Clemmys) muhlenbergii (Bog turtle). Fecundity. Herpetological Review 36(3):310-1.

Warner, J.L. 2005. Glyptemys (Clemmys) muhlenbergii (Bog turtle). Predation. Herpetological Review 36(2):167.

Witzell, W.N. 2005. Caretta caretta (Loggerhead seaturtle). Predation. Herpetological Review 36(2):166.

Woolard, J., R.M. Engeman, H. T. Smith, and J. Griner. 2004. Cheloniidae (Marine turtle). Nest Predation. Herpetological Review 35(4):379-80.