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Nova Scotia, southern New Brunswick, southern Quebec, and southern Ontario south through the eastern United States to North Carolina, and from the Atlantic coast west to Lake Michigan, Indiana, southern Illinois, western Kentucky, and probably eastern Tennessee.
Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, placed the raccoon in the genus Ursus, first as Ursus cauda elongata ("long-tailed bear") in the second edition of his Systema Naturae (1740), then as Ursus Lotor ("washer bear") in the tenth edition (1758–59).
A fifth island raccoon population, the Cozumel raccoon, which weighs only 3 to 4 kg (6.6 to 8.8 lb) and has notably small teeth, is still regarded as a separate species.
The four smallest raccoon subspecies, with a typical weight of 1.8 to 2.7 kg (4.0 to 6.0 lb), live along the southern coast of Florida and on the adjacent islands; an example is the Ten Thousand Island raccoon (Procyon lotor marinus).
Upper Mississippi and Missouri River drainage areas from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains east to Lake Michigan, and from southern Manitoba and probably southwestern Ontario and southeastern Alberta south to southern Oklahoma and Arkansas.
California, except extreme northwest coastal strip, the northeastern corner and southeastern desert region, ranging south through northwestern Baja California to San Quintin; extreme westcentral Nevada.
The most characteristic physical feature of the raccoon is the area of black fur around the eyes, which contrasts sharply with the surrounding white face coloring.