Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Hungry Raccoons and Sweet Corn

If you think you are important, try bossing somebody else's dog around. -Will Rogers
Image from Jrazyblog.

If you think you are smart, and you think farming is easy, try keeping hungry raccoons out of ripe sweet corn.

The internet is very clear, the best option is an electric fence.

I went to the two "farm" stores that are nearby and the continuous "buzz boxes" are sold out. The only electric fence energizers they had in stock were the intermittent variety.

That works OK for cows, but a coon could scoot through the fence quickly enough that it might not get poked.

The key is to train them. They are smart animals and are susceptible to Pavlovian or Classical Conditioning.

The plan is to run a hot-wire about five inches off the ground (125mm in Canadian) and to hang bait from it. Mama Coon and family comes along and try to pull the bait off the fence. Then, my 10,000V, 6 Joule perimeter fence energizer gives them a poke.

The first two baits that we are going to have a horse race with are Red Twizzlers and smoked snack sausages.

I really want the Twizzlers to make a good showing. They are tough and they already have a hole extruded through the middle which makes it easy to hang. They are also nominally "strawberry" flavored although it takes a bit of imagination to smell it.

The experimental design is not very sophisticated. I hung ten of each flavor on a feed-lot panel. Depending on how desirable the raccoons find the bait, they might only eat the ones on the bottom wire, or they might take the bottom two or they might work hard and clean off all three wires.

The possibility also exists that they will show a strong preference for one kind of bait.

That is why I run experiments, because I don't KNOW what they will prefer.

Frankly, I think they will clean up the whole set-up.

Because the Twizzlers are so tough, I purposely made the hooks for the Twizzlers not-very-aggressive so they would pull off the feedlot panel easily.

Bonus picture


  1. I don't know if you can get the material there but they do make electric netting, often used to hold lambs, that might work. My problem here in alaska is moose in the peas and cabbage. Currently using electric tape hung over a four foot board fence. It usually works. One neighbor gave up on multistrand electric and finally put up an eight foot woven wire fence.

  2. I'll be curious as to which they go for, but I'm kinda betting on ALL of it... Trash Pandas gotta trash panda.. LOL

  3. Training -- good point. I use two strands of ticking electric fence extended 3 and 6 inches just inside the top of my 6 foot board fence all around my backyard. But I need to start early, long before the corn is ready. Usually works for my grapes too. Hopefully they avoid my place now and don't come by when things are ripe. Please keep us updated.

    1. Thanks!

      I checked out your Blogger profile and see that you are a very serious gardener. Welcome aboard.

      The top photo was taken this morning. The corn on the left side of the image was planted a week before the corn on the right. The corn in the foreground, right side is nitrogen starved.

      I think I have about 30 days before I am picking sweet corn, that means I have about 20 days to get the raccoons trained.

      I like science projects that are simple, graphic and useful. This is a project that is easily within the capability of a 4th grader.

  4. I plant a little corn so I can shoot and eat the coons. Pretty good eating BBQed.

  5. And then there is the method used by my now deceased 102 year old farmer neighbor. He called it fly bait. He advised putting a small amount on a metal tray in the sweet corn, near the spot where the varmint(s) entered the corn.

    Being a cat owner, I inquired whether the cats might be smart enough to avoid the poison. This led to one of my favorite "Delbertisms"- - -

    "Cats! Cats? They are making more of those, every day!"

    And it turned out that it was a skunk that was ravaging my sweet corn.

  6. My dairy farmer Grandfather, when he was planting feed corn would refill the planter with sweetcorn seed for the very last pass and grew sweetcorn for all his kids and their families. He ran a long extension corn into the sweetcorn and plugged in an old radio tuned to a 24 hour rock station to keep away raccoons, but he often said he thought it just gave them music to dance to while they ate the corn.


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