Baby Raccoons Orphaned After Mom Got Caught and Dumped 10 Miles Away

Three baby raccoons have been orphaned after their mom was trapped and dumped 10 miles away, according to a wildlife rescue organization .

An Ohio woman had found the raccoons nesting in her ceiling. Instead of calling for help, however, she trapped the mom and took her away, said he Wildlife Emergency Service Team of Southwestern Ohio (WEST).

The woman then called the rescue organization unsure of what to do with the remaining babies.

The baby raccoons were only 2 weeks old when the woman took their mother away. Raccoons are not weaned until about 12 weeks old, according to WEST. It is not uncommon for them to wander into attics, as it provides warm shelter for them to protect their young. However "there are many humane ways to exclude wildlife," WEST said in a statement.

Beth Kelly, president and education director of WEST, told Newsweek this situation was "extremely upsetting" as their hands "truly are tied."

Baby Raccoon
WEST shared a picture of one of the baby raccoons to its Facebook page. Wildlife Emergency Service Team of Southwestern Ohio

It is illegal for WEST to accept nuisance wildlife like raccoons into their facility, as they are a rabies-vector species, meaning they can carry the disease without showing symptoms.

WEST could have assisted the woman in removing the raccoons from her property, but it could not provide care for the orphaned raccoons.

Baby raccoons as young as this usually do not survive without the mother, unless somebody takes care of them. However they need feeding at least five times a day, including during the night.

Kelly said WEST did not know the fate of the orphaned raccoons.

"The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is very strict about the handling and care of them...If WEST knowingly accepted nuisance raccoons, it would be a breach of ethics that could cause our state permits to be revoked, and then we wouldn't be able to rehab anything," Kelly said.

In Ohio, it is not illegal to trap rabies-vector species on a property, but it is against the law to relocate them. Relocation can spread rabies and other diseases, like raccoon roundworm. It can also cause serious effects to the animals, according to Kelly, as wildlife that is removed from their natural territory "usually don't fare well."

"Had the woman called us before trapping and relocating mama raccoon, we would have told her to use a Havaheart trap [a cage-like contraption] for mama, and once trapped take her outside and keep her contained while she fetched the babies. At that point, she would put the box of babies right next to the trap, release mama, and then give her plenty of space so she could move them without feeling threatened," Kelly said.

Kelly said there is always a chance the mother raccoon would return to the house.

"But that could be prevented by playing loud music and keeping lights on near the nest, as well as placing ammonia-soaked rags around it. No mama would want to raise babies in that environment," Kelly said. "So this awful situation could have been easily avoided if only the caller had reached out to us as soon as she realized the raccoons were in her ceiling."

The raccoon population in Ohio has been growing in recent years, making instances like this more common. WEST is attempting to educate the public on humane methods to remove them from homes.