Rep. Dean Fisher
(Photo from Iowa Legislature)

An Iowa lawmaker is working on a bill that would give the owners or tenants on agricultural properties permission to capture or kill raccoons that are a nuisance. Representative Dean Fisher of Montour says raccoons have become a big problem.

“The raccoon population has just expanded dramatically over the past few years,” Fisher says, “DNR’s got some data that indicates by 268%.”

he hunting season for raccoons had been limited from November 5 through the end of January, but in December the Iowa Conservation Commission approved allowing raccoons to be trapped year round. Fisher says trapping alone won’t fix the overpopulation problem because the market for raccoon pelts has collapsed.

“And we can’t sell them to China and Russia anymore very easily,” Fisher says. “That market has kind of gone away due to the global issues, so nobody’s hunting them and they’re just an absolute nuisance to farmers and landowners out in the country.”

Under current law, Iowans may only kill a raccoon that’s a direct threat to humans or livestock. Otherwise, Iowans must contact a licensed wildlife control business to trap raccoons that are a nuisance. Fisher says that’s just not workable.

“You cannot follow the DNR rules no matter what they say. You cannot call somebody at 10 o’clock at night. You’re just going to go shoot the sucker,” Fisher says. “There’s just practical realities here.”

Fisher, who lives on a farm in Tama County, has some experience with raccoons. A few years ago, Fisher had a sweet corn patch that was attacked by marauding raccoons. “The field was entirely stripped by raccoons,” Fisher says. “I mean I got one ear out of a 50-by-100 foot patch.”

Fisher says he’s heard horror stories from farmers who’ve had raccoons destroy combines or eat all the feed for cattle and other livestock.

Raccoons will eat just about anything and can sometimes weigh up to 50 pounds. Raccoon are found in most every part of the United States, except for deserts. Raccoon fans say the animals are valuable to the ecosystem and control the population of wasps, which is beneficial to bees.

Radio Iowa