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Frequently Asked Questions about Wildlife

What kind of wildlife do we have in San Mateo County?

Common wildlife included raccoons, skunks, opossums, squirrels, deer, rats and mice, and coyotes.

Why is wildlife a problem?

Wild animals are a natural part of the environment in San Mateo County. It is normal for these animals to pass through properties as they go about their lives among the humans who have moved into their habitat. Some species may even be protected by law. However, wild animals that lose their fear of people can become a nuisance, destroy property, or even pose a risk to human health. This is called human-wildlife conflict.

Can you come trap a wild animal that’s on my property?

The District is not licensed to trap or dispose of wild animals at private residences. Further, trapping is not usually a good solution to problems with wildlife. When one animal is removed, another will quickly move into its territory and take up residence.

Is it legal to kill a wild animal if it causes a problem on my property?

It depends on the species and the circumstances. If you believe need to trap or kill a wild animal, it is best to contact a licensed wildlife trapper. In some cases, you may need a depredation permit from California Department of Fish and Wildlife if you plan to trap or kill an animal yourself.

Can I trap and relocate a wild animal if it causes a problem on my property?

No. It is illegal to relocate wildlife – and with good reason. When one animal is removed, another will quickly move into its territory and take up residence as long as hospitable conditions remain. It is also not humane to relocate animals, since you will be moving them into another animal’s territory where they will not be able to find food, shelter, or safety.

In some cases it may be legal to trap and release (outdoors on the same property – not at another location) or trap and euthanize wild animals, but you may need a license or a depredation permit from California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Alternately, you can hire a licensed wildlife trapper to trap and euthanize a nuisance animal on your property.

Why shouldn’t I feed wild animals?

It is NEVER ok to feed wild animals. Animals that associate people with food may become aggressive toward humans, putting both their and our safety at risk. Animals that are fed by humans are also likely to congregate in large numbers, leading to increased disease transmission between animals and from animals to people.

For more information from Peninsula Humane Society on why it’s not a good idea to feed wildlife, click here.

Is it ok to keep a wild animal as a pet?

It is NEVER ok to keep a wild animal as a pet. If you find an orphaned or injured animal, please contact the Peninsula Humane Society at (650) 340-7022. After hours, injured or orphaned wildlife can be brought to Coyote Point shelter at 12 Airport Blvd. in San Mateo. 

Should I be worried if I see a wild animal on my property?

Not necessarily. Wild animals are a natural part of the environment in San Mateo County. It is normal for these animals to pass through properties as they go about their lives among the humans who have moved into their habitat. If the animal cannot find food, water, or shelter on your property, it will not linger there.

How do I keep wild animals from nesting in my attic or under my house?

The best way to keep wild animals from nesting in or under your home is to ensure they cannot get in. If you need help with wildlife exclusion, the District can provide a free inspection.

How do I keep wild animals from coming on my property?

You should make your property inhospitable to wildlife by removing attractants such as food, water, and shelter. You should trim vegetation, secure trash cans, bring in pet food and water bowls, and pick up fallen fruit. It is also helpful to use chimney caps and other methods to keep wildlife from entering. If an animal cannot find food, shelter, or water on your property, it will not linger there.

What’s a raccoon latrine?

A raccoon latrine is a site that many raccoons use to deposit feces. Raccoons tend to deposit their feces in specific spots. A site is often used by several different individuals over a long period of time. Latrines are often found on roofs, in attics, in tree crotches, on woodpiles or along fence lines or foundations of buildings. Latrines indicate that raccoons have taken up residence nearby or frequently visit an area in search of food. These sites can contain millions of roundworm eggs and are extremely dangerous.

What should I do about a raccoon latrine?

Keep children and pets away from the area and, if possible, clean it up. Clean up of raccoon latrines is difficult. The eggs of raccoon roundworms can survive for many years. They are resistant to all common disinfectants including bleach. The best way to kill the eggs is through flaming the area (including soil) with a blowtorch or burning affected material such as straw or wood cages. Alternately, boiling water can be poured over small areas at a time. In heavily contaminated areas, it may be necessary to remove and bury the soil in a deep spot elsewhere. When cleaning up any latrine area, proper protection is a must. This should include a dusk mask over the nose and mouth, disposable clothing, disposable gloves, and heavy rubber boots that can be cleaned with boiling water.

What’s raccoon roundworm?

Raccoon roundworm is a type of worm that infects raccoons and can cause serious disease in humans that accidentally come into contact with it. The adult worms live in the intestines of raccoons and deposit eggs which can contaminate soil around raccoon latrines. Humans, particularly children, can become infected by coming into contact with roundworm eggs from contaminated soil. The disease has little effect on raccoons but can cause severe, permanent brain damage in young children. For this reason, it is important to avoid contact with raccoons or areas they frequent. It is especially important to prevent raccoons from taking up residence in your yard, garage, or attic.

How can I protect myself from raccoon roundworm?

The best way to protect yourself from raccoon roundworm is to avoid contact with raccoon feces. Watch for and clean up raccoon latrines promptly, and take steps to discourage raccoons from visiting your property.

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