Rabies reports from Arizona, Illinois, North Carolina, and Oregon; and Coyote reports from California, Illinois, Michigan, Nova Scotia, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Grey fox. Courtesy National Park Service.

Arizona 01/27/11 yumasun.com: by Sarah Womer – Two separate fox attacks have occurred within the past few months northeast of Yuma, according to a report from Animal Control.  The first occurred in the Kofa Mountains when a victim was bitten by an aggressive fox believed to be rabid, stated Animal Control Sgt. Aaron Acton.   The man bitten had gotten his rabies vaccine a number of years ago and also underwent post-exposure treatment.  The second attack happened in the Muggins Mountains north of Wellton, where a single fox attacked a group of hikers numerous times. The group was able to get away from the fox unscathed after it attempted to bite the hikers four or five times, Acton said.  “While we cannot confirm absolutely that the foxes were rabid, these attacks show all the classic signs. A healthy, unprovoked fox would never attack an adult human in the wild, let alone a group of them,” stated a press release.   Acton also said that last September, a fox in the Wellton area tested positive for rabies after it attacked a dog.  “This is not a very good sign for Yuma County,” he said, noting that last year, northern Arizona counties had an increased number of rabid animal reports and this may be a strong indicator that the disease may be making its way south.   “Right now is a perfect time for parents to be out camping or hiking,” Acton commenting, urging people to take all safety precautions to protect themselves, their families and their animals while outdoors.   Animals exposed to rabies, when unvaccinated, must either be euthanized and sent to Phoenix for testing or be in quarantine for 180 days at a veterinary hospital or animal shelter at the owner’s expense, reported the press release.   “Try to stay away from wildlife. If you see animals in the area, definitely don’t try to approach them and don’t try to get their attention,” Acton concluded.

California 01/29/11 ktla.com: Several Orange County communities are on alert Saturday after two house cats were killed by coyotes, according to police and animal control officials.  The cats were outside when they were killed in the past week in the Mesa Del Mar neighborhoods near TeWinkle Park and the Irish street tract near Halecrest Park.  Residents should keep their pets inside, especially small and vulnerable ones, say animal control experts. Coyotes typically come out between dusk and dawn and are drawn to easily available food.  The animals also search for scraps of food from open trash cans, fruits or vegetables grown in the backyard or pet food bowls.  Coyotes are common in Southern California and they have adapted well to living in close quarters with humans.  Though there haven’t been any confirmed attacks on people, coyote experts say parents should keep a close watch on toddlers.  Animal control officers are starting their days earlier, coming in as early as 5 a.m. If a resident spots a coyote, they should immediately call the Police Department’s animal control at (714) 754-5255.

Illinois 01/29/11 myfoxmemphis.com: Chicago – A dramatic rescue of a coyote floating on a chunk of ice hundreds of yards offshore in Lake Michigan just before Christmas drew glowing headlines and TV reports in the local media, but the reception is a bit icier when the bushy-tailed predators show up in someone’s backyard, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.  Dennis Fath, a homeowner near the suburb of Schaumburg, Ill., said Rocky, his 10-pound bichon frise, was killed by a coyote in 2009. “I grew up in farm country,” he said. “You know what they do to coyotes there.”  Coyote sightings and the sounds of their cries and yelps have become common around Chicago in recent years. After showing up in forest preserves in the suburbs, they moved on to Lincoln Park and other green areas of the city itself. They have been spotted prowling the streets of the downtown Loop late at night. One even wandered into a Quizno’s sub shop there one afternoon in 2007.  At least three times in recent years, coyotes have been spotted on ice chunks in the lake. In December, an animal control officer on a fireboat was able to pull in one such critter. The coyote, dubbed “Holly,” is now recuperating from frostbite and is expected to be released into the wild in the next few months, said Dawn Keller, founder and director of Flint Creek Wildlife Rehabilitation.  There are at least 2,000 coyotes living in Cook County, which includes Chicago, said Stan Gehrt, an associate professor of wildlife biology at Ohio State University, who has led a major study of the county’s urban coyote population since 2000.  “It’s a natural experiment,” said Gehrt, who has shared his research with city agencies, wildlife groups and citizens from Portland, Ore., to New York City. “It’s not something that people designed or have been involved with.”  Coyotes generally grow to between 30 and 35 pounds and are native to the plains and deserts west of the Mississippi. They moved eastward in the 19th and 20th centuries as wolves, their biggest natural predator, were all but wiped out. In recent decades, the animals have settled in cities from Florida to Nova Scotia.  Read more:  Wall Street Journal

Illinois 01/28/11 connecttristates.com: by Jim Robesky – The Illinois Department of Public Health and Illinois Department of Agriculture are reporting a bull testing positive for rabies.  The bull was pastured in east Macon County and developed signs of rabies on Monday, Jan. 24, 2011.  The owner did not report any known exposure to odd acting wild animals, but reported many wild animals are sighted on his property.   The last domestic animal with rabies in the state was reported in 2005 in a cow that had been pastured in both Bureau and LaSalle counties.  A horse tested positive for rabies in 2004 that had been pastured in LaSalle County.

Michigan 01/28/11 birmingham.patch.com: by Laura Houser – Birmingham Police received a report Wednesday of a coyote sighting on the city’s east side, near Poppleton Park. According to reports, the coyote did not approach or interact with anyone.  According to police, coyotes are native to southeast Michigan, much like deer or foxes. To have them in the city, reports state, “is not remarkable” and coyote attacks on people are extremely rare. According to Deputy Police Chief Mark Clemence, there has never been an attack in Birmingham. Coyotes are nocturnal and generally venture into suburban areas in search of food (primarily garbage) and other small mammals (squirrels, mice and rabbits).  As a precaution, police are asking residents to not take their garbage out until the morning of trash pick-up and to monitor any small pets when they’re outside.

North Carolina 01/29/11 blogspot.com: by Kelli Easterling – A rabid bobcat recently gave a Hoffman woman quite a scare when it entered her home and drove her into a bedroom.  Animal control officers eventually put the bobcat down, but not before it attacked a neighborhood dog and chased Carla Edgerton, of Blues Bridge Road, into her home.  According to reports from County Animal Control, she called in the incident from a bedroom the wild animal chased her into on Sunday, Jan. 23.  Animal Control Officer Matt Sewell responded to the call, and upon entering the house, found the aggressive, destructive cat still inside. It had to be forcibly removed with a catch pole, and was so violent it had to be destroyed at the scene.  Mike Norton, animal control supervisor, said the animal was sent to the Cooley Veterinary Hospital, where the head was removed and shipped, via state courier, to the State Laboratory of Public Health in Raleigh.  Testing confirmed that the animal was infected with the rabies virus.  Edgerton and her dog were unharmed, but the neighbor’s dog, which was not vaccinated against the disease, will have to be euthanized.  “County Animal Control or local veterinarians can be contacted at any time for information on how to get pets vaccinated for rabies,” Norton said. “We offer reduced-price vaccinations, usually in early May, for about six dollars.”  Average cost of the treatment is $12 or less. Dogs need to be vaccinated once after four months of age, and then once every three years, in order to remain protected against the virus, which can be found in various wildlife animals.  State law requires all owned dogs, cats and ferrets to be vaccinated.  “Following the attack, another bobcat displaying strange behavior was reported in that area.” Norton said.  “Some warning signs that may alert you that an animal is infected are extreme salivation, nocturnal animals coming out in the daytime, wildlife that boldly approaches people and unusually aggressive behavior,” he said. “If a person encounters an animal they think is a threat, they can call the police department or animal control for assistance.”

Nova Scotia, Canada 01/30/11 oran.ca: (The Natural Unseen Hazards blog is routinely limited to relative news reports issued within the U.S., but this item warrants exceptional notice.) by Rankin MacDonald –  Coyote attacks continue to occur across Nova Scotia and Eastern Canada.   A meter reader is attacked in Halifax, a woman is bitten in New Brunswick and in our county people continue to tell us stories about aggressive and larger animals.  “We were always on top of the food chain in Cape Breton, but now we’re being hunted,” a man-of-the-woods said to me last week.  When the coyotes first arrived in Cape Breton they were fox-like animals, most often scrawny and ugly, and when confronted by a person they’d retreat to the woods as quickly as they appeared.  But today there are large, impressive-looking animals that seem to have no fear of us.  Some are downright aggressive.  Why has their behaviour changed?  Are these aggressive coyotes hybrids, and have we allowed them to become comfortable with us to the point where we are being hunted?  One thing is for sure; we must never feed these animals, because they will return and you may be on the grocery list.  If you’re going for a walk take something along to defend yourself.

Oklahoma 01/28/11 newsok.com: by Diana Baldwin – Charles Ming is concerned about the number of coyotes roaming around southeast Edmond housing additions. Some of his neighbors said they are worried about bobcats.  Small dogs and cats have been killed recently in Arrowhead, Cheyenne Ridge and Thornbrooke neighborhoods, said Ming, president of the Cheyenne Ridge homeowners association.  Ming helped organize a neighborhood meeting about the animal threat, but he said attendees learned there isn’t much that can be done.  “I was disappointed,” he said. “I would like them to go away. But no one has the ability to do anything about it.”  Ming said he may take his concerns to the city council.  State game warden Joey Rushing said people are seeing more bobcats and coyotes because January, February and March are the breeding months for these wild animals.  “They are also scavenging for food,” Rushing said. “We are building more houses where these animals live. What do we expect them to do? It comes with the territory.”  Small animals can be in danger, especially at night, Rushing warned.  He suggested people watch their animals while outside, don’t leave food and trash out and install a fence. Bird feeders also are a draw for coyotes.  “Bobcats are typically afraid of people,” Rushing said. “Coyotes can be scared off by loud noise like an air horn.”  Edmond police Capt. Nicki Smith said, “Bobcats and coyotes are both opportunistic animals — meaning they prey upon what is readily available to them. They are both, by nature, very skittish of humans, but like most wildlife, if they find people are not a threat to them they become more comfortable around people.”  Coyotes and bobcats are rarely a threat to humans, Smith and Rushing said.  Neither city animal control nor game warden officials have the manpower or capability to capture the coyotes or bobcats, they said. People can hire professional trappers or nuisance wildlife control operators to assist with their problem.  “Some people are against us doing anything about the problem,” Ming said.

Oregon 01/29/11 theworldlink.com: Tests confirmed two new cases of rabies in foxes in the Cave Junction area. This brings the total to nine cases of rabies in Josephine County since the beginning of 2010 (eight in the Cave Junction area and one in Merlin).  People in the area should vaccinate their pets and report any strange wildlife behavior to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at 1-866-968-2600.

Texas 01/29/11 caller.com: by Mark Collette – A sixth person has reported a coyote bite in Port Aransas as officials continue efforts to trap and remove some of the animals.  A man reported being bitten Jan. 23 while sleeping on the beach, police said. It was the first such report since last summer, when three men and two boys, 12 and 14, reported bites in separate incidents, also while camping near dunes along the beach, Police Chief Scott Burroughs said. Victims received precautionary rabies vaccinations, but none were seriously injured.  Animal control officers have captured about 24 coyotes in cage traps in four months as the city responds to some residents’ worries about the safety of their pets and children.  Officials said coyotes are common on Mustang Island and surrounding areas, and cannot be eradicated. They hope to balance trapping with public education, encouraging people to put away food, garbage and pets, and to keep clean campsites.  The goal is to reverse human behaviors that have encouraged coyotes to lose their natural fear of people, Burroughs and wildlife officials said.  Coyotes also are common on the outskirts of Corpus Christi and where human development meets wild habitat, said Rick Sramek, district supervisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services division.  When Port Aransas officers suspect a trapped coyote may be responsible for human or animal bites, the coyote is killed and its brain tissue sent for rabies testing in a laboratory. None have tested positive, Burroughs said.  Bruce Leland, assistant director for Texas Wildlife Services, a cooperative of state, federal and private agencies, said trappers are advised to kill the coyotes they catch.  Statewide, there were three laboratory-confirmed cases of rabies in coyotes in 2009 and none in 2010, the Department of State Health Services reported.  Although rabies cases are rare, a statewide quarantine prohibits the relocation of trapped animals, Leland said. The Texas Department of State Health Services instituted the quarantine after a rabies outbreak in South Texas in the 1980s.  “You cannot relocate these things,” Sramek said. “Why would you want to take an animal that’s engaged in biting people and move him somewhere else? The safest and most humane thing is to put these animals down once they’re caught.”  The coyotes trapped in Port Aransas represent a tiny fraction of efforts to control the animals. In 2009, USDA Wildlife Services killed 20,628 coyotes in Texas and 81,711 nationwide. Those figures don’t include killings by ranchers and landowners. Leland said most coyotes are killed because they threaten livestock.  There is no statewide reporting system for coyote attacks on humans, but biologists and wildlife officials say such incidents are rare. More commonly, coyotes bite or kill small pets.  In rural areas, ranchers use cyanide baits and clamp traps. Burroughs said Port Aransas opted for cage-style traps because the other methods could be dangerous to children or pets.  Residents are divided over the coyote threat and control measures, City Councilman Rick Pratt said.  “They break neatly into two groups,” he said. “One group hates and fears coyotes and thinks anything wild should be killed, particularly since it threatens their pets. The others … think coyotes are definitely taking stray cats, which is probably a good thing.”  Pratt, a biologist who has directed nature centers in Fort Worth and Houston, said he falls somewhere in the middle.  Burroughs said it’s possible some of the people who reported bites are mistaken but that they are consistent: a single bite to the arm.  “Of course, the bites occurred at night, and some of the people had been drinking,” Burroughs said in an e-mail.  Pratt said trapping may help reduce coyote confrontations, but the animals gradually will rebound.  “People tend to fear these things,” he said. “The old ancestral fear of wolves gets into them. Personally, I like to hear the coyotes sing.”

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