Raccoon Latrine

Asked June 17, 2020, 1:41 PM EDT

Hello, I ave a veggie patch in the local community garden and have found a raccoon latrine in my chamomile, There are multiple poops, maybe 1 -2 a day for over 10 days. It stinks and is in the corner patch only one foot from my strawberries. Knowing that it is toxic with roundworms and with all the rain, I fear that the soils is horribly infected and I don't feel safe to even eat a think out of this garden. The garden is 20 x 20, Poop is in the upper right hand corner in a 3 x 3 patch of chamomile. Pics will follow. What to do? how to trap, who can help? I don't want to clean it up myself yuck. Can I even eat the lettuce? Strawberries? Thanks, Jennifer

Washington County Oregon

1 Response

That's unfortunate - Before we plunge into safe removal and disposal of the material, let's pause and make sure this isn't cat use of your beds - Now if it is cats, we still don't want them using your beds as their litterbox for health safety reasons, but it's a little less dire. If you or a friend have access to a game or trail camera, doing 1-2 nights of observation to confirm the ID of the guilty party would be a good idea.
Now let's assume it IS a raccoon latrine. I'm glad you're aware of the reasons for concern. https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/baylisascaris/resources/raccoonlatrines.pdf This CDC handout has excellent information for numerous situations. In your case, gloving up, using a shovel, and securely bagging the affected soil and scats for disposal in the garbage (NOT compost) is the most direct. Notice at the bottom of the handout recommendations for a flaming/torching option - You still would need to remove (shovel, gloves, bag & dispose) the feces, but maybe some of the soil could be decontaminated -- HOWEVER, I would be concerned about the potentially rich amounts of organic matter in your growing bed - mineral soil wouldn't burn, but the organic matter sure would! Also notice that roundworm eggs take a little while to become infective, so if this is a brand-new latrine, there's likely not been alot of scat degradation ("melting") into the soil. The plants themselves won't have "ingested" or incorporated any eggs from the soil, but if the eggs/scat were deposited ON them, then yes, you'd need to bag and dispose of those.
Prevention of a recurrence, whether you're keeping out cats or raccoons, will likely involve making a barrier of some sort. It's hard to get too specific without knowing the situation with the community garden, whether there's a potential to fence the whole area, or just your beds. One solution, especially if we're protecting an entire shared gardening lot, would be a short electrified fence. If you Google electric poultry fencing, for example, you'll see some products that you or the whole gardening group could consider. Another potential tool would be a water scarecrow IF (big if) you have the ability to monopolize a hose and point the scarecrow so that it wouldn't be triggered by or hit other users of the area. Another super-localized solution would be to make a barrier just around and over your single bed with welded wire (hardware cloth or 2x4 welded wire fencing).