Raccoons: at my wit's end
Two summers ago, we finally put some time into our back yard, planting some ferns and erigeron, etc. Just as soon as they really started to get established, a family of raccoons started coming nightly, digging them up, pulling them fully out of the ground…and digging up other plantings as well. We tried putting chicken wire around the base of the ferns; didn't work at all. Plants were dug up, yanked out, killed. They are of course back this season, and are wreaking havoc. They know there's a yummy buffet out there. We've been here 20 years, and have always had a garden; but we've never had a problem this extreme before. I have not found anyone at nurseries who have been able to give useful advice on how to deal with them. I’m feeling a bit desperate at this point, and am posting to see if anyone in BPN has any useful advice before we move along to a more extreme measure.
I have tried spraying two brands of smelly sprays; those worked for a few days but that was it. I am now buying bulks spices at Costco (cayenne, black pepper, cinnamon), and spreading them all around the plants' bases, and generally in the entire areas they are digging (about 400 square feet). Since this has to be reapplied every time I water -- and I've found that if the spices are more than 2 days old anyway they blow right through it -- this becomes quite an expense. About $12 each time, so, at 3 times a week...it's crazy expense.
I know that they’re going after the grubs (and I assume also the worms), and have heard that that needs to be addressed.
But this is where I’m confused: do people really apply MoleMax, or deal with nematodes, for an area that big? (And then there’s the lawn too, and a vegetable garden and side flower area that so far, fingers crossed, they have not gone into much.) It seems a *huge* area to try to deal with in that way. I am ignorant, and nobody I’ve spoken to at nurseries seems to be able to answer.
I also know about the idea of motion sensor lights…and electric “fences” (wires); and I read that that does not always work, after investing the money. And coyote urine -- that seems iffy too.
I'm at my wit's end, and at this point I see two options: either give up on having plants in my yard (this constancy of effort and expense is disheartening and unsustainable); or, pay a lot of money up front for a pest removal service, and have them removed (and euthanized). Someone at a nursery told about trapping her problem raccoons herself, and relocating them. But I know this is illegal, since it spreads disease. And anyway: I’m not hearty enough to trap and relocate raccoons myself; that sounds pretty scary.
I do NOT want to kill these creatures. I wish I could send a raccoon memo and tell them: ‘If you go away now, you can stay alive. But next week: all bets are off. Come at your own risk.’
Maybe the response is: 'Well, this is just the reality, living a mile from Wildcat Canyon.'
But I don’t know if that also means: ‘You cannot have a garden; and it’s foolish to keep trying. Dig up those ferns and your other plantings, and put them in the green bin, and know it’s a lesson learned.'
Does anyone have any advice for me, before I turn my vegetarian self into an animal killer? I'm on the cusp.