Monday, June 14, 2010

A new visitor to the garden

This morning I found a raccoon in the garden, and I'm not sure how I feel about it.
I consider raccoons a class 3 non-native species; this is according to my own little classification system (European starlings are a class 1, for example). Raccoons are not native to most of Montana, but are now widely spread across the state (this I have personally confirmed with roadkill observations). They are native to a small area in extreme eastern Montana, but they were never really common there. Their range has expanded throughout the state (and in the northern Rockies) in the last 50 years as a result of urban- and suburban-ization. Development, tree planting and food subsidies (garbage, pet food, and intentional feeding) has facilitated their range expansion. Raccoons are native to the US, and they have not been introduced by people (as far as I know), but since they are not native they have the ability to disrupt indigenous plant and animal communities and compete with other native animals.
They are similar in many ways to other non-natives we have in Montana, like Eastern and gray squirrels and house finches. All three of these are native to the US but not native to Montana, and all have been transported and introduced outside their native range by people. Squirrels have become a conservation issue and are really a problem (read more here , for example). On the other hand, house finches, which are native to the south western US but now occur all over the west, are merely a nuisance. I'm not aware of them being a conservation issue (as a little aside, since we stopped feeding sunflower seeds to birds, the house finches are uncommon in our yard).
So, I am not sure what to think of the new visitor. I will do some research and observation, and keep an eye the the little fellow for now.


  1. I am not very knowledgeable with raccoons too but being a wild animal and had visited your yard, it poses a real danger. Wild animals only go to a place on two purposes, either eat or looking for some refuge. But they seek refuge near to their food. So be careful for that one.

  2. I've wrote some article before rodents and raccoon is apart of it. They are harmless, however when they go to a place,they are definitely looking for a refuge.

  3. Hi David!

    What a great website! I saw this guy too right around then. He was playing by the ditch early in the morning. Really started me.

    See you at the Grand Opening of the pocket park.

  4. Hi Nicole,
    Thanks so much for the comments- I'm glad you like the blog.
    The raccoon was probably was washing his food in the irrigation ditch.
    Glad you'll be at the grand opening- see you there.
    Thanks again,

  5. Darn those murderous tree-rats.
    RIP, Miss Pooey!
    Great Blog, D.S., haven't checked in on it for a while, and I'm learning a lot! I miss your back-yard sanctuary, and you and the missus as well! Hope to see you soon,

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