Raccoons to take center stage at Bremerton City Hall


It’s finally on the agenda. On Wednesday night, the Bremerton City Council will tackle an issue long discussed, but never dealt with — not recently anyway.

Yep, we are talking about raccoons.

Councilman Eric Younger told me he’s lived in different homes in Bremerton and has seen problems with raccoons in each one. He is most concerned with neighbors who feed them, thus creating a reliant critter population that can create problems in neighborhoods.

“I’m trying to come up with a solution,” Younger said. “To the best of my knowledge, no one has addressed this.”

Here’s what’s on the table.  The city administration has responded with a potential change to city code that would include making it unlawful to feed raccoons outdoors at anytime. Violators would be subject to a $125 fine for a first offense; $250 for a second offense in the same year and $500 for a third and each subsequent offense in the same year. 

Failing to respond to an infraction would become a criminal misdemeanor offense as well, and could be subject to civil action from the city.

Here’s the other part of the plan: the city would hire a United States Department of Agriculture wildlife specialist for up to 80 hours a year, at a cost of $3,500. They will assist the city “in the form of educational information, non-lethal techniques or direct control.”

“If direct control is necessary, the most effective and safe tools and techniques available will be utilized,” the program plan says.

I think that means the wildlife specialist will have the ability to use traps and to shoot raccoons in the city.

I’d like to hear from my fellow Bremertonians about this issue. Do you have a raccoon problem? Do you love them and keep one as a pet? (Not recommended.) Drop me a note below or email me at jfarley@kitsapsun.com. We’ll be keeping a close eye on this issue.

28 thoughts on “Raccoons to take center stage at Bremerton City Hall

  1. We have a bad problem with racoons using our front porch and deck to get from Hayward to the alley next to the old white fire station in Manette. We even had one climb a 4 X 4 to get to our upper deck when it was being chased by a dog. They are very dangerous when cornered and cannot be scared off.

  2. Josh, I live on Winfield, just east of the old Maple Leaf, with that huge green belt there. I have a major raccoon problem here. I have a water feature in my back yard, and they come drink out of it pretty much every night. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t let my dog out at night until I make sure it’s clear, because he’s fearless and tries to chase them.

  3. The plan of a fine imposed for those who feed the raccoons does not cover the extended issue of feeding their own pets outside, leaving food for ferel cats, leaving food items out after a barbeque, or leaving garbage cans open. In my case, the hummingbird feeders, fruit trees, and bird bath added to the raccoon visits. At times the raccoons also pulled up areas of the lawn to get grub worms. During our last snow in February, I took pictures of all the raccoon tracks around my house and preschool entry door where there are no attractions to entice the raccoon. I personally made flyers in my neighborhood last summer trying to educate neighbors. While this is a good plan too, I am left to think the best solution is trapping and zapping. We cannot afford to have dangerous toxic animals inhabit the city.

  4. I thought it was already illegal to feed the raccoons? I’ve watched them push my neighbors pit bull of her food bowl and steal her food. Urban raccoons are just big rats with stripped tails.

  5. We have had considerable issues with raccoons for years. Gangs of them roam the neighborhoods busting through fences, tipping over garbage cans, seeking out, going after and fighting with household pets all hours of the day and night.

    In Councilmember Youngers area they have become aggressive enough that they have actually, on more than one occasion, started going after my Husband who is a delivery driver when he has been delivering packages.

    And yes, we have that one person on our street that thinks feeding them and every other bushy tailed rodent in the neighborhood is a fun and harmless hobby to engage in.

  6. The raccoon population in Bremerton seems to have grown exponentially in recent years since I first lived in Manette in the late ’60’s until 1988. Now I am back in East Bremerton, and these creatures have literally taken over, along with the non-native squirrels. I think trapping would create a risk for family pets such as small dogs and cats. Other means of eliminating the raccoon problem should be considered. I am opposed to shooting them, lest we create a gang of weapon-toting citizen vigilantes who decide they can do the job better than a wildlife specialist or a law enforcement officer.

  7. We at my home in Silverdale have a family of raccoons every year that use my backyard as a passage way to and from the water source and where they sleep! I believe they are beautiful creatures, but wish they didn’t come through my yard because I have small children.

  8. We have a huge problem here in Fairgrounds with them. I have a neighbor that continues to feed raccoons at his back door. I have seen as many as 20 coons in his yard at once. We have asked him to stop and even complained to the city about it with no results. I have had coons corner my dogs in my own yard and openly come to my door. I do not feed them and I do secure my trash. Something needs to be done.

  9. I’m a newcomer to Washington and live in Manette. I’ve seen two very well fed raccoons crossing the yard on top of a chain link fence. Neither my dog nor I had seen one before and I thought they were cute — until my dog barked and the first one stopped in it’s tracks -still on top of the chain link – and stared at us. We retreated.

    I come from a natural history/education background and one of the first things we taught was not to feed wildlife. Not. Ever. Those “cute” critters know how to make a living in nature. Enticing them into your yard teaches them to depend on human food and will only end in tears.

  10. We too, have raccoons coming into our yard nightly (sometimes groups of them), digging big holes looking for worms or whatever, coming onto our porch and scaring/cornering our cat. We live close to large fields and next door to a burnt house in east Bremerton, which they use at times as shelter. Am getting really tired of them, some of them are really large. They are looking for anything that holds water to drink and we have started bringing our cat food in before dark, but they still show up!!! Usually they come after dark, lately they are getting gutsy and showing up before nightfall!

  11. I hold WA State & Federal licenses for Wildlife rehabilitation and had a satellite facility in Kitsap County for 6 years. Raccoons have always been a problem in Bremerton from the time I was a child in the 50’s. When the bowling alley in E. Bremerton was open, you could open the back door and find 40 to 50 on any given evening. Mother Nature has a means of controlling the raccoons through distemper which permeates the populations when the areas can’t support them any longer. That distemper does affect some pets, but not as many as people believe. Their average life span in the wild is 2 to 3 years, but at one year, they can begin to have litters of 2 to 3 kits. Normally, only 2 will live to adulthood and the males can’t stay within the same territory or they will be killed by the patriarch within that territory.

    The biggest problem in the city, and surrounding areas, is humans. No matter how much education people are given, they ignore it. Don’t feed them, don’t leave out pet food, take your pets in and close the pet doors at night, place trash cans and garbage in a garage or enclosed area, clean all animal bowls with bleach/water, clean up known feces in a yard with rubber gloves and spray the area with bleach/water for safety of pets and children. There are other methods and I’ll enclosure a web site that details them.

    We have bear and cougar all through our foothills now. A lot of them. We follow the guidelines I just listed and don’t have a problem most of the time.

    You had a bout of distemper in the Puget Sound region in 2011 and you’re due for another in a year or so. It happens about every 5 years up there. Yes, raccoons carry zoonotic diseases, although there hasn’t been a case of rabies by raccoons in over 60 years in WA State. You have had numerous cases caused by bats. Nor have there been any cases of Leptospirosis in humans, which is the most dangerous bacteria carried by raccoons.

    If the animals are in a crawl space, or other area of the home/garage/outbuilding, place a rag in a bowl, pour bleach in to fill and place it where the animal has been entering/nesting. It WILL get them to leave. If they have young babies, it may take a while. Same with squirrels and other small mammals in crawlspaces or attics. Then, AFTER the animal is gone, close up that entry. Check for entries as a safety precaution.

    If you’re going to trap them when populations are high, where do you take them? The whole of the Olympic Peninsula has raccoons and finding humane locations that will support them is getting almost impossible. Relocation is also inhumane as territories are established and they will fight to the death or attempt to find their way back to their own grounds, getting ill and fighting with pets as they pass through. According to WDFW, lethal control is a last resort and can never be justified without first applying the above-described nonlethal control techniques. Lethal control is rarely a long-term solution since other raccoons are likely to move in if food, water, or shelter remains available. It will always happen.

    Education, education, education and let Mother Nature take care of the rest. Save your dollars….. your problem will only return in a few years. That’s a given. You’re surrounded by water and have the perfect environment for these animals. I suppose laws/fines could be utilized for the worst offenders of feeding and drawing them to a neighborhood, although that will also be costly in man hours for law enforcement.

  12. I used to live in Bremerton…will be returning this summer.
    All the above comments talk about raccoons taking over, or words to that effect. The raccoons were here long before people were. The more people encroach upon their home (the forest,) the more the raccoons will be in back yards and around people. What do you expect?
    I agree, don’t feed the raccoons. They become aggressive, and will sometimes try to enter your home. Killing them is wrong, plain and simple. Perhaps, relocating them might be an alternative, since money is being spent on this “problem.”

  13. I am appalled. REALLY Appalled! We have invaded more and more areas taking more and more habitable land and we want to kill the creatures we’ve displaced. You don’t want them in your backyard – I guarantee you they didn’t want you in theirs. Our disrespect of nature makes me ill.

  14. I’ve lived in Bremerton all my life – first near Olympic College and now near N.Wycoff and closer to the water. I never saw a raccoon until I moved to the Wycoff area in the 1970’s. My neighbor used to feed them till I told her about someone who said the Game/Wildlife folks said if you feed them, you are responsible for them. They also said to either relocate them or shoot them. She quit feeding them and now we only see a few here and there – but if they find food outside, they’ll be right there!

  15. I am very happy to hear that at least there is some real discussion about this growing problem happening. I have lived in Manette for 27 years (E. 22nd ) and agree that we have a very serious growing problem with Raccoons. Worse in the past 5-6 years. They are in our backyard every night taunting my dog, walking across the top of our backyard fence, hanging out on our deck. I agree with Rick, they are very dangerous and cannot be scared away. They are intimidating and I feel unsafe when they are in my yard. Many times I have seen them walking down the sidewalk or in the yard in the middle of the day. Neighbors have reported seeing up to 20 at a time running up neighboring cedar trees. Not sure where they actually live, but perhaps the big cedars are where they hide out.

    We also have a problem with large rodents (rats) as well running across the road and along the power lines in the middle of the day. The rodent problem has worsened in recent times since the Chicken Coops became legal. We have had to hire a monthly service to take care of the rodent issues.

    Food sources are what attract these vermin. Feeding birds, chickens, pets outside, compost piles that are not maintained properly and vegetation that creates an environment for them to hide adds to the problem. Complaints to the city have not helped, frankly I have given up on calling. Fines need to be stiffer for those caught, rental property owners need to be held accountable for maintaining their properties and most importantly all city ordinances currently in place NEED TO BE ENFORCED.

  16. PBS did a documentary about the migration of raccoon and the urbanization and behavioral changes of the raccoon. Believe me, raccoons are a problem and the wild habitat is no where near the population in the city. They live 2 to 3 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity.

  17. The number one favorite food of raccoons is frogs. Remember when the sound of frogs were everywhere? The reason they are much less in Bremerton, and much less in America in general? Raccoons, frogs advertise their position, and “coons are more than willing to destroy the population. For those that say we are encroaching on their territory, we may be, but our feeding of them encourages high birth rates, and longer fertility rates, leading to an increased number that compete with other animals for resources and habitat.

  18. The hateful attitude to these animals shocks and saddens me. I have never found racoons to be a problem. I ignore them and they never bother me. I am not going to get hysterical about the presence of a wild animal. Just be respectful and leave them alone.
    On the other hand I have had run ins with uncontrolled dogs and nothing seems to get done about them!

  19. Thank You for the article in the newspaper last weekend. I’m sure given enough time we would be able to hear a lot of different stories. One great resource is the Veterinary Hospital where domesticated animals are brought in from raccoon attacks. Another might be the E.R. at the Hospital to check the validity of humans being attacked.
    I knew there would be a comment from someone in the newspaper like Mr. Richardson who said raccoons will not attack unless provoked. Check out the PBS Documentary. Mr. Richardson, I invite you to come over and see where the two raccoon in October with no kits attacked me in my back yard where there is no food, garbage, etc. The raccoon were not cornered they moved on to my property to attack my two dogs at my feet and then one of the raccoon lunged at my head and I blocked it with my arm. It bit my down coat sleeve but did not puncture the skin. The raccoon had 3 routes they could have taken before they reached me. They were intent on attacking my dogs. You are not understanding.

  20. Thank you for your testimony at last nights City Council meeting on this issue Wanda! Very much appreciated and impactful.

  21. We can make a difference in this world to make better lives for everyone. One step at a time, in the right direction! Thank you Colleen Smidt, I appreciate your kind words. I see the codes should be 3 part, listening to all of the trials of the community.

  22. We had raccoons when we lived in Bremerton. One night we were out on the deck with visitors and three raccoons started up the stairs towards our then toddler. All adults got up to shoo them away, but they kept coming. I grabbed the poker from the fire pit to move them back, but to no avail. It was like a freaky horror film. I’m not ashamed to say I used lethal methods. After the first one fell, the other two ran off. We have them now on Bainbridge as well, but not as aggressive (yet)…and of course we exercise common sense protocols.

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