I need to get rid of raccoons in the barn

Raccoons have moved back into the barn on top of the tackroom. They have destroyed the tackroom drop ceiling by getting in between it and the wood ceiling above and peeing and pooping on it and causing it to fall down in pieces. Now they are back - I saw one looking down at me. And of course they are crapping on my hay.

So they need to go. I don’t shoot the wildlife. But I need to make the barn VERY undesirable as a home for them. Firecrackers might burn the barn down though. Maybe stinkbombs? Flea bombs? Rap music full blast going off at odd moments ( but that might freak out the horses). Something on the top of the tackroom that will make their life miserable and make them want to move out. Recordings of dogs barking?

Maybe talk to your game warden?

The only solution we know is to trap and “dispose of properly”.
If you can’t, get a friend or neighbor that can.
Then make the barn inhospitable to them, put wire on top where they can’t dig in there, keep any food sources away, etc.

When we have some move in, there is no discouraging them and they can do so much damage so fast.
Some broke thru the door into the feed room one night, trashed the place.
We replaced the door with a heavy duty one next day.
That night, they came back and tore a hole right by the door, on the wall and again trashed the feed room. :roll_eyes:


We bought a place with a circa 1800s barn that the raccoons thought had been built for them. After a couple of confrontations outside the feed area (which we had lined with hardware cloth to slow them down) we jacked up this huge barn and poured a concrete slab. That got rid of them.

Having them in the ceiling is a different problem though. There must be scents they don’t like. I’m thinking mothballs, fox urine, garlic. Maybe your county ag office can help? Best of luck.

Remove the drop ceiling, line the bottom of the joists with hardware cloth, attached with heavy-duty xtra long staples. and fill the openings between the joists with wood boards cut to fit. Then reinstall a new drop ceiling over the hardware cloth.

Make sure there is no food whatsoever that they can get to. Install a motion-activated FM radio near where you think they’re entering the barn, and set the radio to a talk radio station. I don’t think it would need to be very loud for the human voices to scare the raccoons. And probably the horses won’t be concerned about the radio (but that said, it would probably wake them up).
My husband just leaves talk radio on all night in his shop, and zero raccoon visits.

Trap and dispose of properly, as Bluey said. Otherwise they won’t quit getting into stuff. Young ones learn from others. Can you lock the barn down tight, making traps with food enticing? Easier to catch when hungry.

Sometimes you have to be hard about these various invasive animals. Raccoons especially, get smarter and more destructive with each success. The whole group must be removed to have the damage stop, or they may just shift to other areas.

The thought of diseases they can carry, their destruction costing me hard-earned money with pooping on hay, trashing feed, WALLS!, removes all sympathy or cuteness effects on me.


For this “batch” you have to actually get rid of them. Trap and/or shoot. They’ve learned a habit, and they will not easily unlearn it.

Once you’ve gotten rid of these ones, you need to put the time into making it impossible for them to enter. Do you know how they’re getting up there?

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Mine have left … I no longer leave anything out they might find interesting to eat, and I put bowls of ammonia where they might choose access into their hiding areas. Took awhile, but they’re gone.

In my experience, a radio being on will not discourage them from coming in. I used to have a radio running 24/7 and still had some raccoons that found my feed room and enjoyed breaking into the cat food no matter how I had it stored. Raccoons do not believe any food storage container is actually raccoon proof and will work at it until they get in.

We fixed the problem the way suggested above, trap and dispose.


Mine left when I became fastidious about removing their food and water sources.

But it was a hellacious couple weeks as they destroyed everything in my barn in protest. They ripped through my tack cabinet, chewed through bottles of fly spray, shredded anything with packaging, etc.

I don’t have food down there. My cats get canned food at the house and they devour it as soon as it goes down. I try to remember to keep the tops on the feed barrels so they can’t get into it and I put the organic fertilizer ( Tomato Tone et al ) in containers they don’t get into because they eat that too. They have not gnawed into any storage containers. I feel for the wild animals out here because the nasty people across the street clear cut the 100 acres over there and displaced a lot of wildlife that lived up in those huge trees.

I am going to try an airhorn. If I could put the fire alarms I have in my house ( that go off anytime the power goes down) into the barn that shrieking would drive everything out. They have not been in the barn for a while but it is winter here with lots of rain and cool temps and that has made the barn attractive to them. I thought by eliminating feed sources that would do the trick but I need them to move on.

is it really wise to be feeding wildlife? Everything I have been told is the only wildlife that I should feed are Birds.

and I guess that is where your raccoons came from

If you read the whole post that you quoted they say specifically that there is no food down at the barn.

The point they were trying to make is that they think the raccoons moved in, not for food, but because their habitat was destroyed.

Here is the part it seems like you missed:


The thing is, even letting them get in once will guarantee you a roving band of raccoons who will try, try, try again. Just the smell of your feed bins will encourage them to come every night.

So given you are averse to trap & shoot, you really really have to make it fooproof-- no way to tip them the bin over, no way for them to pry the lid off, and no way you to forget putting the lid on. My feed bins are built into the barn structure and have a heavy lid that works like a trap door (lifts upward). A coon would be standing on the door so he can’t lift it while he’s standing on it. And it’s “countersunk” a little bit into the bin frame-- the sides of the lid are not exposed, so he can’t pry it open by grabbing onto the side of the lid. And finally, the lid won’t stay up in the open position-- I lift and hold the lid with one hand while I’m scooping grain out with the other. Because I know myself and inevitably at some point I’d accidentally leave the lid. So I make it foolproof for me, too.

In general, we can’t change wildlife behavior, especially in the winter when they’re hungry. We just have to harden our structures to physically block them. Or hope for a wave of distemper to knock back the raccoon population. I’m being sarcastic of course, but that’s what happened this winter here. I’ve found lots of dead raccoons in the woods, that look like they just kinda died in their tracks-- no trauma, and it’s been a mild winter so it’s not from starvation or exposure. I checked with our DNR and they told me it’s distemper, and it tends to burn through the local population, until it fizzles out because a lot of them have died. New populations will of course move in, but have to say I’m enjoying this year’s respite from invading coons.

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SusanO said “I feel for the wild animals,” not “I feed the wild animals” - is that where the confusion was?


Yes I do not feed the wild animals. I stopped putting up birdfeeders about 20 years ago when they became raccoon feeders. I lock up the horse treats in my truck. I have the horse feed in bags in a heavy duty barrel. I suppose they could gnaw through the barrel but they have not done this. They are unable to get the lids off them. I think wild animals should stay wild. But these raccoons like condo living.


Trap them or can you keep a dog at the barn? I had a family until my big dog found a youngster. They were gone the next day. Hard way to learn a lesson.

We have a new subdivision going up nearby. They clear-cut acres of forest and suddenly we had several raccoons raiding our bird feeders - i mean vandalizing, and not just the bird feeders. They broke two bird baths and a ceramic fountain, and tore up a screen on our back porch, for instance. I wouldn’t mind if they just stopped by for a snack, but the destruction was too much.

We bought a humane trap and relocated them to a heavily wooded area several miles away and hope they’ll be happier there. It’s not necessary to shoot them. It wasn’t their fault that their homes were destroyed.

BTW My neighbors suggested canned cat food or peanut butter as bait, but the raccoons easily reached in with their little hands and took that stuff; my husband finally tried a fried chicken drumstick tied to the bottom of the trap with dental floss. We put bricks around the top and sides of the trap so they couldn’t reach inside. They had to go through the door to get the chicken, and couldn’t snatch it away since it was tied down. Got 'em!



If you live somewhere with full-on winter (snow, freezing temperatures, etc.) they may struggle to find food and shelter if you try to relocate them at this time of year. It may be more humane to kill them then to ship them off to freeze to death. If you want to pursue relocation, I suggest first consulting a local wildlife expert to determine if it’s ok to do that at this time of year. I prefer the relocation option myself but you should pick the drop off spot carefully to minimize the chances of them finding their way into someone else’s barn.


Unfortunately, relocating and releasing trapped animals REALLY messes up the wildlife in the new area of previously established animals. You may introduce disease into the population with trapped carriers. Unless there has been a die off as mentioned with the distemper, land is probably carrying the max load of various wildlife already. No place for the dumped animals unless someone gets killed fighting!

It TRULY is not kind to release animals into areas where they don’t know water or food location, have to fight with established “top dog” racoon in the territory.

We wired hard cloth wire to the cage end and sides to keep paws inside the cages, not able to reach the bait without entering. Tie or weight cages down to prevent it rolling and releasing the animal. One here reached out cage top, grabbed feed can handles to move cans, tip cage over and get out. Made quite a mess moving cans and cage, much stronger than I would have believed possible!! Took quite a while to recatch the animal, get it OUT of the barn!

Call Animal Control, the DNR, about IF you can legally relocate them and how to best move the live animals to other designated locations. Rehoming to new locations can possibly be illegal!! Perhaps these agencies will take the trapped animals from you. And sometimes the only disposal method is dispatching them. A neighbor might help you in this instance and carcasses put in feed bags for the garbage pickup. They MAY be disease carriers, I would not bury them on my property! Be really careful handling the traps to prevent getting scratched or bitten. Could be Rabies carriers inside.

If relocating, you may want to paint a tail tip, to know if it is the same animal returning. They can be very determined to come back. My friend did relocating but kept catching racoons. I suggested a bit of spray paint before release. She tried going 5 miles, 10 miles! But they still returned, had to dispatch them. They were EXTREMELY destructive, no way to “live and let live” with them. Similar wreckage to what OP is telling us.