If you've purchased a Havahart trap to get rid of that destructive critter on your property you could be breaking the law.

A destructive raccoon has been running wild in our neighborhood. He's been knocking over garbage cans, visiting swimming pools and leaving his or her telltale footprints everywhere. To rectify the problem, my neighbors and I have contemplated setting up traps to catch the raccoon and then drive him somewhere nice across the river so he never bothers us again.  Unfortunately, it turns out that we're not allowed to do that.

Looking down at a young raccoon stuck in a garbage container

The Havahart trap was developed as a humane way to deal with nuisance animals. Instead of killing or injuring the animal, it safely captures the critter so homeowners can relocate it and allow the animal to survive somewhere else.  New York State, however, would rather you just kill it.

That's right.  The DEC has an extensive list of regulations when it comes to trapping and killing nuisance animals. According to the law, it's perfectly fine to shoot, drown or suffocate a raccoon that's causing damage to your property, but you're forbidden from trapping it and setting it free somewhere else. This sounds terrible, but it's true. According to the DEC, the reason relocating animals like raccoons is illegal is that it could help spread disease or cause "unnecessary stress" to the animal. I don't know about you, but I'd take a little stress over being lethally shot in the head with a BB gun.

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So just how much trouble could you get in for moving that destructive raccoon to a new home? According to Poughkeepsie attorney Jonna Spilbor, the DEC would be responsible for enforcing the law, which usually results in a ticket. She recommends if anyone wants to humanely get rid of a nuisance animal to call a licensed animal wrangler or the DEC directly who may be willing to come out and handle the issue for free.

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