Residents urged to take precautions around raccoons

Carmel Valley resident Lance Cunningham wants people to be aware of the dangers raccoons can pose to other animals after a raccoon killed his cat on April 20. Cunningham was devastated by the loss of his cat, Flick, who was 21 years old. He found her remains in his neighbor’s yard.

“I’ve just seen a ton of them around,” Cunningham said of the neighborhood raccoons. “While people think they’re cute, they’re extremely dangerous.

The biggest raccoon Cunningham has seen in his Alta Mar neighborhood off High Bluff Drive was around 40 pounds and the number of raccoons he has seen at one time were six. He’s seen a mother and babies in his front yard and was chased out of his backyard by three grown raccoons after barbecuing his dinner around 8 p.m. one night.

The animals have shredded a screen door on his house and his 13-year-old daughter will no longer go outside when it is dark because she is afraid, he added.

Cunningham said Flick was a very healthy, predictable kitty — she didn’t go far from home when she was outside during the day. On the night of April 20, she snuck outside and when she didn’t return, Cunningham had a bad feeling. The next morning, he would find some of her fur and her paws.

“I’m still very upset,” Cunningham said. “I’m trying to find a solution to the problem and how we can resolve this as a community.”

Kevin Brennan, a wildlife biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game, said raccoons are known to take domestic cats and dogs. He said the most common culprits are coyotes, but bobcats, raccoons and foxes can also kill small dogs and cats.

“All those animals (coyotes, bobcats and raccoons) are urban wildlife — they live in and amongst homes in suburban neighborhoods,” Brennan said.

Brennan said there are some preventative steps people can take to keep the animals away. The proper storage of garbage and food is key — bring in pet food at night and make sure garbage cans are secured.

Brennan said in Cunningham’s case, where the animals are in the yard and tearing off screen doors, it was already too late. Once the raccoons are there, if they are a nuisance the only option is to trap or kill them.

He said animal rights groups have gotten rid of animal-trapping services in some cities, but San Diego has resources available such as San Diego Wildlife Control. Visit

  1. The nonprofit Project Wildlife also has useful information.