First-Of-Its-Kind State Ranking Report Cards Reveals Major Deficiencies in State Laws Protecting Raccoons, Wildlife

Report analyzes and ranks laws and regulations impacting raccoons in all 50 states and District of Columbia

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BALTIMORE, MD – This week For All Animals, a national animal protection organization, released the nation’s first comprehensive ranking of state laws impacting raccoons. Our Backyard Neighbors: An Analysis and Ranking of State Laws Affecting Raccoons reveals state laws, across the board, fail to adequately protect raccoons and other backyard wildlife species. Only two places, the District of Columbia and Hawaii, received ‘A’ or ‘A-‘ grades. Alaska, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming received ‘F’ letter grades.

In most states, raccoons are afforded few protections. Across the country, it is legal to kill raccoons for their fur, because they are deemed nuisances by homeowners, and simply for fun. The rankings are based on an analysis of hundreds of state laws and regulations in four areas: (1) whether raccoons are designated as nuisances, (2) wildlife control operators, (3) wildlife rehabilitation, and (4) hunting and trapping.

“The lack of meaningful protections for raccoons underscores the gap between how most Americans feel about these charismatic animals and our state wildlife laws,” said For All Animals Executive Director Elizabeth Putsche. “This report is a wakeup call to states and wildlife advocates that we have to do better to protect the native wild animals that share our communities.”

The outcry that ensued after a Florida high school teacher violently drowned two raccoons and an opossum in front of his students indicates many people care deeply about raccoons. Yet 8 states classify all raccoons as either nuisances or harmful to the environment. Eighty four percent of states still allow the use of painful leg-hold traps. Leg-hold traps cause severe suffering including bone fractures and amputations. Some trapped animals even amputate their own limbs because they are so desperate to escape. Less than half of states require animal trappers to complete an education course.

The rehabilitation of raccoons is also prohibited or extremely restricted in multiple states including Connecticut, Nevada, and North Carolina. Some states deter raccoon rehabilitation by limiting the number of permits available or actively discouraging it – a distressing surprise for citizens who find injured raccoons and seek help. Further 36% of states have no licensing requirements for wildlife control operators meaning anyone can open a business and charge homeowners money to kill wildlife. And even in states with permit requirements, there may not be training, education, or reporting requirements.

The full report, including an analysis of each state’s laws, is available for download at www.forallanimals.org.