Fixing our pest problem

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Allen Palmer
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
While working at Whiteman Air Force Base (AFB) Missouri, you are bound to encounter wild animals at some point. Nevertheless, one animal in particular seems to be ever-present. Whether on your morning drive or evening run, base residents and commuters have noticed the raccoon population is on the rise.

The 509th Civil Engineer Squadron's four-man pest management section has already captured approximately 80 raccoons, opossums and skunks in 2017. That is nearly three animals per week being removed from the installation. However, this number is continuing to increase. In order to up their game, pest management recently doubled the number of traps in their inventory and are asking all of Team Whitman to help make the base less appealing for these furry critters.

The North American or Common Raccoon habitats every state in North America and almost every country in the world. Adult raccoons commonly range between 10 and 30 pounds and feature poor eyesight, a keen sense of smell and intelligent persistence. They are dexterous climbers and have nimble five-fingered hands. Being primarily nocturnal, the urban raccoon often uses storm drains as “hidden highways” to make their way through a neighborhood without being seen, emerging to investigate food sources and escaping back into the drains when startled. Living an average of two to three years in the wild, raccoons are mostly solitary and invade crawlspaces, attics and porch voids in order to den, they will eat just about anything including trash, pet food and barbecue scraps under a grill.

For a raccoon, Whiteman AFB is a neon “all you can eat” sign amidst the surrounding grasslands, woods and rivers. The homes, food establishments, dumpsters and trash cans found on base are constantly pumping out attractive food odors. Nevertheless there are steps you can take to help lessen a raccoon’s attraction to our community.

Trash Cans
• Secure your trash can to a fence or stout post to prevent raccoons from tipping your can.
• Securing your trash can’s lid with a strap to guarantee trash won’t accidentally fall out.
• Never over-fill your trash. If you need extra space ask a neighbor to use some room in their can.
• Wash your trash can as needed. Grunge build-up creates a powerful and attractive stench.
• Place your trash can next to the curb on the morning of pick-up day, not the night before.
• Do not raccoon-proof your trash can by placing heavy objects on top of the lid. This may damage the can or cause bodily harm if it falls.

• Dumpsters should be at least 50 feet from a door and have the lids closed at all times.
• Inspect your dumpster for damage or rust-through that would allow a raccoon access to trash.
• Use sturdy trash bags and do not overfill or lay trash on top of or next to a dumpster. Back Yard • Keep grills clean of scraps and store grilling utensils in a secure location.
• Clean up after parties, picnics and barbecues. Food, wrappers and other debris will attract raccoons.
• Place any outdoor pet food dishes inside at night.
• If you encounter raccoon droppings or scat in your yard, use a plastic bag turned inside-out with your hand in a disposable glove to remove it.
• Do not sweep or spray away dried scat with a garden hose as roundworm eggs, commonly found in raccoon scat, may become airborne and inhaled causing severe sickness.

Prevention is a strong first step with pests and will go a long way in keeping raccoons from targeting your home. However, if you do encounter a raccoon, such as one trapped in a dumpster, do not approach. Raccoons may carry rabies or canine distemper, as well as hitchhikers like fleas and ticks, and will lash out if threatened. If you encounter a dumpster with significant rust issues or a strapped raccoon inside please call 509th Civil Engineer Squadron Requirements at 660-687-6350.