Coyote reports from California, Maryland, New Jersey, and North Dakota; Rabies reports from Michigan, and Texas; Chronic Wasting Disease reports from Minnesota, and Mississippi; and a Tularemia report from Texas.

Coyote. Courtesy National Park Service.

California 01/26/11 Some East County residents say wild coyotes are roaming their neighborhood and pose a danger to family pets. People that live in parts of Santee near Magnolia Avenue and Woodglen Vista Park say they are seeing more coyotes than ever before. “They come in packs down our street,” said resident Joyce Howard. “Half a dozen, easy.”  “In our neighborhood, I don’t see a cat alive anymore,” said Santee resident Becky Shields.  “(Coyotes) are brave and jump fences,” she explained.  Biologist Bill Toone said it’s not uncommon to see more coyotes during the winter and spring months especially near wildland areas.  “You are seeing them peak right now,” Toone said.  Toone said coyotes have a harder time finding food in winter, and it’s the time of year that female coyotes are pregnant, so they need more nutrition. They forage in neighborhoods at the edge of their habitats during the winter and spring months because their appetite increases.  “If you’ve ever lived with a pregnant woman, their appetite goes through the roof,” Toone said. “So they’re really out working hard for food in an environment that right now isn’t supporting a lot.”  The coyote breeding season continues through March, Toone said, so residents living near open spaces can expect to see more coyotes through the end of spring.  Residents living in areas prone to coyotes need to protect their pets by keeping them inside.  They should also be careful not to leave bowls of pet food outside to avoid attracting wild visitors.

Maryland 01/27/11 Fifty feet away, just where open land

Courtesy National Park Service.

tumbled into kudzu, a large, shaggy, mottled, gray canine was devouring the carcass of some small animal.  Certainly not a fox, which are the size of cats or lapdogs.  Nor a wolf. Wolves are not resident in Maryland, according to Harry Spiker, Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ man on big furbearing mammals.  Likely it was a coyote. In Fairhaven.  “We’ve got coyotes statewide,” Spiker told me. “They’re good at not being seen, and they’re around people more than people think.”  This one was the visible exception, Spiker explained, because it was probably a hungry yearling focused on its meal.  The young coyote was likely alone, and my sighting pure luck. With a range of miles, Spiker said, “if he was here yesterday, he’ll be gone today. They’re nomads.”  That’s probably for the better. The Natural Resources website notes that when coyotes move in, they don’t make popular neighbors. They’d likely eat the neighbors’ chickens — come to think of it, I haven’t heard any cockadoodledoos lately — then cats and small dogs.

Michigan 01/27/11 The owner of a German shepherd that bit a 12-year-old boy last weekend is being sought by Orchard Lake police.  Police said the boy was with his father at a boat launch Saturday afternoon on Orchard Lake Road just north of Pontiac Trail when the dog bit him on the buttocks.  The Dearborn Heights boy is undergoing treatment for rabies as a precaution with a series of shots.  Police said the dog was walking with his owner, who appeared to be a man in his 60s who was driving a silver Honda Civic.  Anyone with information is being asked to call the Orchard Lake Police Department at 248-682-2400.

Minnesota 01/27/11 by Paul Walsh – As expected, a national lab has confirmed that a sample from a deer killed in southeastern Minnesota tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD), the state’s first wild whitetail known to be afflicted.  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received the confirmation Tuesday from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa. A preliminary diagnosis of CWD had been made by the University of Minnesota.  The DNR said last week that the deer was taken by an archer in November near Pine Island. CWD is a fatal brain disease that affects deer, elk and moose but not cattle or humans.  The DNR’s response has begun with an aerial survey of the deer population in the Pine Island area. The department plans to work with landowners during the next two weeks to collect more information and expects to share its findings and plans at a public meeting in February. Those plans are expected to include killing and sampling a portion of deer there to see if the disease has spread.  The DNR has been concerned about the spread of CWD to the state’s wild deer since 2002, when the disease was first found in captive elk near Aitkin. Minnesota has about 1 million wild deer, and because CWD is always fatal to deer and elk, the effect on the state’s half-million deer hunters and related industries would be significant.  CWD, which can be transmitted by animal-to-animal contact, is not believed to pose a danger to humans, although hunters and others who eat venison and elk are warned to avoid an animal’s brain and spinal cord. The disease causes small lesions in brains of animals, triggering physical deterioration and behavioral changes.  CWD has long been found in some wild deer in southern Wisconsin. (See posting of 01/24/11 regarding Chronic Wasting Disease.)

Mississippi 01/27/11 A bill that would allow genetically enhanced deer on breeding farms in Mississippi failed to pass the Senate Tuesday, but a key committee chairman plans to bring the measure back up for more debate.  Senate Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee Chairman Tommy Gollott, R-Biloxi, requested the bill be considered again after Tuesday’s 28-22 vote. The measure needed 30 votes, a three-fifths majority, to pass.  (See posting of 01/25/11 regarding Chronic Wasting Disease.)

For more details go to

New Jersey 01/26/11 by Jaime Cannici – Teaneck Police

Coyote. Photo by Rebecca Richardson. Wikipedia Commons.

responded to a Springside Avenue home on Jan. 16 on the report that a wild animal, most likely a coyote, killed a small dog.  The dog owner told the officer that her 12 lb. Yorkshire terrier had been killed and carried away by a coyote. At first the resident reported her dog missing, not knowing that it had been killed. She explained that her mother had let the dog out just after midnight and it never returned. It was reported to the police that at about 1 a.m., her mother claims to have seen a coyote carrying something in its mouth.  The Bergen County Animal Control was notified by the Teaneck Police Department of this incidence. An investigation revealed evidence that the animal was killed, according to the Teaneck Police.  Teaneck Police Capt. Mark Distler wants to advise residents about this wild animal attack.  “Residents need to be aware that we live among wild animals that can harm pets and humans. Don’t mistake a coyote for a small German Shepherd, which is common because of the similarities between the two animals,” Distler said.  According to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife, “The coyote is a wild member of the

German Shepherd. Wikipedia Commons.

dog family. The coyote has firmly established itself in our area through its extremely adaptable nature.”  A key difference from a domestic dog and a coyote is its long snout and bushy, black-tipped tail, according to the NJDEP. If a coyote is spotted, make sure they’re not welcome. Make loud noises, blast a canned air siren, throw rocks, or spray them with a garden hose.  Capt. Distler stresses residents to call the Division of Fish and Wildlife at 908-735-8793 (daytime) and the Teaneck police at 201-837-2600 (or 911) if a coyote is spotted showing no fear to humans or if a coyote attacks a person. Outside business hours, call the DEP hotline at 877-WARN-DEP (927-6337).

North Dakota 01/27/11 North Dakota lawmakers say the state’s coyote population is growing, and they’re proposing that hunters get a $100 bounty for shooting one.  The bill drew opposition in the North Dakota Senate’s Natural Resources Committee on Thursday. Rural Linton rancher Richard Lawler says the bounty would draw “weekend warriors” who wouldn’t have much luck bagging a coyote.  The bounties would be paid for with money taken from a state Game and Fish Department fund that pays for professional hunters who help with coyote problems. Lawler says those hunters are more effective at killing coyotes.  Bowman state Sen. Bill Bowman says increasing coyote numbers could cause a spring crisis. Bowman says deer numbers are down, and coyotes will be hunting livestock instead, at a time when cattle prices are good.

Texas 01/26/11 Health officials on Saturday will begin

Raboral V-RG Rabies Vaccine Bait.

distributing an oral rabies vaccine for wild animals in selected rural areas of southern Cameron County.  The Brownsville Health Department and the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) announced they would put out the Raboral V-RG vaccine in combination with bait for consumption by coyotes and gray foxes.  The vaccine is not harmful to pets but is not approved for protection against rabies in domestic animals.  Health officials say there is no danger of developing rabies with exposure to the vaccine.  The vaccine and bait are contained in brown, three-dimensional rectangles measuring 1¼ by 1¼ by 1¾ inches, in a plastic packet with a hollow center. Printed on each one is a warning in English: “Warning; do not disturb; rabies vaccine; Texas Health Dept.; 1-877-722-6725.”

Areas to be covered are:

-George Saenz Lane (Southmost area, Sabal Palm to Monsees Road);

-Amigoland Tract (Palm Boulevard near river);

-Old Port Isabel Road (starting at intersection of FM 511 to intersection with Highway 100);

-Paredes Line Road (starting at intersection of FM 511 to north end of city limits).

Distribution will be done by hand from a health department vehicle and is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. and be completed by 5 p.m.  Human and pet contact should be avoided, and people should not touch the vaccine, health officials said.  Questions relating to the vaccine and possible human or pet exposure should be directed to TDSHS Region 11 Zoonosis Control at (956) 444-3212.  

Texas 01/25/11 After finding evidence in feral hogs of the bacteria that causes tularemia, researchers at The Institute of

Feral hog.

Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) at Texas Tech University are warning hunters and ranchers to use caution when handling wild game.  Steve Presley, a zoonotic disease researcher at TIEHH, leads a team of researchers that tested about 130 feral hogs from Crosby, Bell and Coryell counties. Of the animals tested, 50 percent of the Crosby County pigs and 15 percent of the central Texas pigs showed evidence of current or past infection with Francisella tularensis.

“We have found high levels of antibodies in these pigs that show they have been infected with Francisella tularensis and found that some of these pigs were actively infected with it,” Presley said. “The bacteria are constantly present in animals in this area and the feral hog population, but normally it’s only a small number of cases. This is a huge number of infected animals.”  Tularemia is a serious infectious disease caused by the bacteria Francisella tularensis, he said. Commonly known as rabbit fever, it can be carried by rodents and wild game animals as well as mosquitoes, deer flies and ticks.

Most human infections become apparent after three to five days, and signs include fever, lethargy, anorexia and signs of septicemia. Lesions can form on the skin where infections start. It also can enter the body if infected body fluids come in contact with the eyes, nose or mouth. In some cases, the bacteria become easily airborne and can be inhaled.

However, Presley’s team of scientists has yet to determine which subspecies of bacteria is infecting the hogs. One subspecies, called Type B, can cause disease in wildlife domestic animals and people, but poses a less serious health threat to humans.

Type A can be lethal to humans and is considered a viable bioweapons agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Presley and Brad Dabbert, associate chairman of Texas Tech’s Department of Natural Resources Management, discovered the bacteria while looking for brucellosis, another highly contagious disease caused by bacteria that infects humans when they ingest unsterilized milk or meat from infected animals or come in close contact with their secretions.

Though the team found no evidence of Brucella, Dabbert said he was surprised to find evidence of Francisella tularemia.

“Traditionally, it’s a rabbit disease, but it does get reported in birds and other mammals,” Dabbert said. “Since hogs can range over large areas, it’s certainly possible that they can transport this stuff. That’s kind of the critical issue now. The other thing we’re trying to do is look for it in other animals now to more accurately answer that question.”

Approximately 126 human cases of tularemia are reported each year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 2000 to 2008, only eight cases of tularemia were reported in Texas.

Regardless of the type of bacteria, Presley urged caution to anyone who may come in contact with wild animals, especially those who might hunt or eat wild hogs.

“If you are handling or cleaning or eating wild game, particularly hogs, deer or rabbits, you should be wearing rubber gloves and eye protection when you’re dressing wild game,” he said. “The bacteria can enter any sort of small cut or hangnail. During this time of year, it might not be as big of an issue, but you should check yourself for ticks, wear tick repellent and avoid biting flies, including mosquitoes.”

Presley also recommended making sure game meats are thoroughly cooked before eating them. Homeowners and lawn care professionals should look for wild rabbit nests hidden in tall grasses prior to mowing.


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