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The raccoon (Procyon lotor) is found throughout the United States, with the exception of the higher elevations of mountainous regions and some areas of the arid Southwest. Raccoons prefer hardwood forest areas near water. Raccoons are omnivorous, eating both plant and animal foods. Raccoons may cause damage or nuisance problems in a variety of ways, and their distinctive tracks often provide evidence of their involvement in damage situations. Raccoons are protected furbearers in most states, with seasons established for running, hunting, or trapping.