Fox attacks three people and animal control vehicle in Virginia; a Coyote report from California; and Rabies reports from Connecticut, Georgia, North Carolina (2), and Oregon. Canada: Coyote reports from British Columbia, Nova Scotia, and Ontario. Travel Warnings for Victoria, and Queensland, Australia.

Red Fox. Courtesy U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

Virginia 03/12/11 wvec.com: by Emily Rau — A fox went on an attacking spree near the Oceanfront in Virginia Beach Saturday morning.  Animal control crews responded to the 200 block of 66th Street around 7:20 a.m.  When they arrived they spotted the fox before it attacked the back of the animal control vehicle. It then ran away before crews could catch it.  Two hours later they still hadn’t found the wild animal when another call came in from the 200 block of 71st Street, regarding a second attack.  Minutes later, at 9:47 a.m. a third call from the 700 block of Atlantic Avenue reported the fox attacked another person.  As animal control officers spotted the animal on the front porch of a home, according to Wayne Gilbert, spokesperson for the animal control unit.  Gilbert tells 13 News the fox then attacked the vehicle for a second time, latching onto one of the rear tires before being captured by the officers.  The animal control unit contained the animal without injuring it. The fox was later euthanized and will be tested for rabies sometime next week.  The fox bit one person, scratched another and may have come in contact with a third person.  The Health Department encourages anyone who may have come in contact with the animal to seek medical attention and report the possible exposure by calling 757-385-5000.

California 03/11/11 seattlepi.com: by Robin Hindery – San Francisco – Armed with a camera and a sturdy pair of boots, Janet Kessler spends most of her days roaming through lush parklands in pursuit of some of San Francisco’s most unlikely inhabitants – the city’s increasingly visible population of coyotes.  “They are my passion,” said Kessler, a 35-year San Francisco resident who has been observing and photographing coyotes in four city parks. “It’s this contradiction of an urban, settled environment and wild animals, and I find it thrilling.”  Wildlife researchers estimate that about a dozen coyotes live in San Francisco, with the first sighting in decades reported in 2001 in the Presidio, a federal park and residential neighborhood located on the city’s northern tip.  The coyotes’ ability to adapt to life in the country’s second-most densely populated major city has intrigued experts and provoked even far-fetched theories about how they came to set up residence in a city surrounded by water on three sides. (For complete article go to http://www.seattlepi.com/national/1110ap_us_san_francisco_urban_coyotes.html )

Connecticut 03/12/11 patch.com: by Kathleen Ramunni – A sick raccoon found Friday afternoon on Mill Rock Road has tested positive for rabies, and now police are hoping to find the woman they believe handled the sick animal.  At about 2 p.m. Friday police and animal control officers were called to 327 Mill Rock Rd. on the report of a sick animal, police Chief Thomas Wydra said Saturday.  There, officers found the raccoon that was “seriously injured,” Wydra said. It was euthanized and sent for testing, he said, and those tests came back positive for rabies.  When investigating, officers were told that a woman had handled the animal, Wydra said.   “While on the scene, it was reported to Animal Control and Police personnel that an unidentified woman came into contact with the injured raccoon,” he said, “when she picked it up and removed it from the street.”  On Saturday the results came back that the animal was rabies positive so now police want to locate the woman so she can be treated, Wydra said.  The woman is asked to contact police at 203-230-4000, Wydra said, as well as seek medical attention. 

Georgia 03/10/11 neighbornewspapers.com: by Erik McNeal – Residents need to safeguard their pets from wild animals which may carry the rabies virus, according to Paulding County Public Health Environmental Health office officials.  A rabies-positive raccoon near Tanner Farm Road in west Paulding was identified recently, according to a Feb. 25 release from Northwest Georgia Public Health.  There have been eight confirmed rabies-positive cases in the last 18 months in Paulding County, according to manager Chris Collier. They involved five cases of raccoons and three separate cases involving a fox, bat and cat, according to county environmental health office statistics.

North Carolina 03/12/11 rrdailyherald.com: by Della Rose – Halifax County and Northampton County officials say they are dealing with an increase in rabies cases.  In the past two weeks, a rabid cat bit an animal control officer in Roanoke Rapids, and exposed at least nine other animals and its owners.  In January, a rabid skunk was reported in Northampton — the first rabies case in the county since 2006.  According to the State Department of Epidemiology, Halifax County averaged one to five cases of rabies per year, since 2001, but officials in the Halifax County Environmental Health and Animal Control said those numbers are rising.  “We have had a number of rabid animals,” Halifax County Environmental Health and Animal Control Supervisor Jeff Dillard said. “In the last situation on Madison Street, the whole family had to have rabies (treatment).”  Dillard added those treatments are very expensive and painful.  Halifax County Animal Control officer Robert Richardson agreed, and said he’s seen about 13 cases of rabies in a little more than a year. He said the vectors, animals carrying the disease, lately have mostly been skunks.

North Carolina 03/11/11 the-dispatch.com: A rabid skunk found Thursday in the Silver Valley community has become the fourth case of rabies in 2011 in Davidson County. A dog was in a fight with the skunk, according to a press release from the Davidson County Health Department. The dog was not vaccinated and has been destroyed. There was human exposure reported, and that person has been referred to a physician for follow up.  The fifth case of rabies for the year was reported Friday. On March 7, a sick cow in the Hasty area died. It later tested positive for rabies. There was human exposure reported and those people have been referred to a physician for medical follow-up. Due to this being a livestock issue, the situation will be handled by the N.C. Department of Agriculture.  The health department will sponsor a rabies clinic at the department from 2-4 p.m. April 16. Dr. Greg Hedrick will administer the vaccines. The cost is $5 per vaccination at the clinic.  Do not handle an animal with bare hands after it has had contact with a wild animal. Saliva from the wild animal may still be present on the domestic animal’s fur, and by handling the animal, you may expose yourself to the rabies virus. If there are stray dogs, cats or wildlife in your neighborhood, call Animal Control at 249-0131. Call the Rabies Hotline at 242-2348 if you or your pet comes in contact with another animal.

Oregon 03/11/11 kval.com: A dog that got into a fight with what turned out to be a rabid fox will spend 45 days in quarantine, according to national and state guidelines.  If the dog had not been up to date on its required rabies vaccine, it would have been facing a six-month quarantine or euthanasia.  The rabid fox was shot by a resident on March 7 as it fought with the dog in the owner’s yard. The fox tested positive for rabies on March 8.  The positive rabies test marks the 11th animal to test positive for rabies in the Cave Junction area since last year. It is believed to be the first time a domestic pet has also been affected. So far, one coyote, one goat and nine foxes have tested positive for rabies since 2010.

Canada:

British Columbia 03/10/11 bclocalnews.com: by Tim Petruk – A female coyote was shot and killed by conservation officials this morning (March 10) after chasing a number of children and teens in a Westsyde neighbourhood.  Conservation officer Mitch Kendall said calls about the animal started coming in just before 9:30 a.m., and officers responded to the area of Bank Road near Arthur Stevenson elementary.  A female coyote, described by Kendall as “mature and healthy,” was shot and killed.  Kendall said the coyote was aggressive, and had become habituated to humans.  “It was reported to have been chasing teenagers and younger kids,” he said.  “They were actually running into neighbours’ houses to avoid the coyote.”  Kendall said a number of area dog owners also said the coyote had lunged at their pets, but no pets are missing.  The coyote is believed to have been searching for garbage.  Kendall said it’s likely an area resident had been providing the animal with food.

“We have heard rumours of people feeding the coyotes,” he said, explaining that someone feeding a wild animal might think they are helping it get through winter.  “Their hearts are in the right place, but this is exactly the problem.”  Kendall said he was able to get up to within four metres of the coyote before it was put down. “I’ve never seen that happen in 25 years of my career, where you can get that close to the coyote,” he said.  “It must have been pretty habituated to humans.”  Kendall said mid-February to mid-March is mating season for coyotes, so they’re especially active.  Thursday’s was the second coyote to be put down in Kamloops this winter.  Last week, conservation officers shot and killed a cougar outside a Rayleigh home.  If you see a predatory animal in your neighbourhood, call the conservation office’s emergency line at 1-800-663-9453.

Nova Scotia 03/10/11 trurodaily.com: by Sherry Martell – North River mother Natasha Ritchie is urging her young daughter to use extra caution on her walk to and from school after receiving word a coyote may have been sighted in the area.  On Wednesday, school officials sent a letter home with students, advising guardians of an early morning coyote sighting on the school property.  “We talked about it, but didn’t make a big deal out of it,” said Ritchie, mother of nine-year-old Macayla.  She said there have been many coyote sightings in recent months all over the province and this area is no different.  “Every parent has concerns about their children’s safety, but I won’t not let her go out to play or not walk to school,” said Ritchie.

The Department of Natural Resources was called to investigate the claim and learned the 7:30 a.m. sighting had occurred in a field next to the school and not on school property.  The school has been following a no-food policy for the playground for several months and will continue that.  School officials are keeping students indoors for the remainder of this week.  The department is closely monitoring any reported activity and will keep the school informed if further action is necessary.  Officials also supplied information about coyotes, which included how to prevent the animals from seeking food on properties, what to do if you encounter a coyote and steps to take if it is exhibiting aggressive behaviour.

Julie Johnstone, a resident of a subdivision near the school and mother of two children attending classes there, is also concerned about the sighting.  “I do believe that keeping the students inside at recess is a good step toward protecting them from potential harm,” said Johnstone, adding, “I might have liked to have a little more information regarding the animal that was actually spotted and who it was spotted by to know if the report was made by a reliable source or if it possibly could have been a dog that was mistaken for a coyote.”  She also feels the entire neighbourhood should be notified of coyote presence, not just school children and their parents.  “The school is in a residential area with several homes close by,” she said. “It would be nice for everyone in the neighbourhood to be aware and to take precautions, such as not putting food waste outside.”

Ian MacLeod, family of school supervisor, said this is not the first time a coyote has been spotted near a school in this region.  He said about two months ago there was a sighting near Cobequid Consolidated School in Old Barns, which also prompted a letter home to parents.  “It’s just to be prudent,” said MacLeod. “If there is a sighting in the area we want parents to be aware. Often, children will play at the area after school hours as well, so they wanted parents to be aware and for safety.”  To report a nuisance coyote, call your local Department of Natural Resources office or call 1-800-565-2224.

Ontario 03/10/11 intelligencer.ca: by Jason Miller – Some Prince Edward County farmers are still hunting for a solution to the ongoing coyote problem, despite reports of a decline in the claims filed for livestock losses in 2010.  The dollar figure for livestock claims in the county fell to $64,000 in 2010 from $81,000 in the previous year.  Andy Harrison, the chief building official for the county said officers from the Ministry of Natural Resources have been actively tagging the fox-like predators in an attempt to track the coyote population’s size and movement.  The ministry stepped in after a proposal to permit a bounty on coyotes was voted down by Prince Edward County council last year.  “We (the County) didn’t push it any further,” Harrison said. “They (county council) just looked at the bounty and when it got shut down, natural resources kind of took over.”

Harrison attributed the decline in livestock claims to the diligence of county farmers who have implemented protective measures such as fences and guard animals to protect their livestock.  But, Chris Byford, a county sheep farmer said his flock has been hit by several brazen attacks in recent months. On at least three separate occasions last year coyote attacks killed close to a dozen sheep in one sweep.  “The last three years has been the worst,” he said about the attacks. “Last year was a bad year. It really cuts into your bottom line.”  He said hunting and trapping the coyotes is a painstaking process. Since November, Byford has caught 19 coyotes on his Bethel Road farm.  “In the last two or three years I have been getting on average 50 a year, just off my farm,” he said. “They just keep coming here.”

Byford isn’t a fan of killing all the coyotes, but he does support a province-wide bounty.  “I just want to get them down to where they are manageable,” he said.  MNR research scientist Brent Patterson said the ministry is not considering a province wide coyote hunting contests, cull or bounty at this time.   Based on information provided by deer hunters, coyote sighting has been increasing for at least the last decade, he said.   “In most areas of southern Ontario this index shows a fairly steady increase in coyote sightings beginning in the early 2000’s,” he said. “In some areas of southern Ontario this index peaked in 2008 and numbers actually seem to be declining slightly now.”

In other areas, the coyote numbers increased through 2009, which is the last year the MNR has data.  Statistics from observations made in 2010 has yet to be released.  Patterson said Natural Resources Minister Linda Jeffrey is looking at options around coyote management. The ministry will be providing information about those plans in a few weeks.  Lynn Fox wants answers now. The county farmer said attempts to pass the bounty bylaw failed because some land owners were apprehensive about giving hunters access to their property.  “It’s too bad that they couldn’t pay a bounty on them,” she said. “They should have let the farmers hunt them and pay them the bounty.”  Fox noted that on many occasions farmers are unable to claim compensation because the coyotes don’t always leave the carcass of smaller animals. And farm animals aren’t the only ones taking a hit.  “The deer population has just dwindled to nothing and you never see a rabbit around,” she said.

Ron Pierce hasn’t been experiencing that kind of action in Belleville, this winter. A year ago, the local animal control officer trapped and killed several adult coyotes who were preying on house pets in the Farnham Road area.   “It’s been below normal,” he said. “I haven’t had any work to do around the Belleville area,” said Pierce.  It looks as though the coyotes that plagued south Hastings County have moved to Prince Edward for their groceries.

Travel Warnings:

Australia 03/12/11 abc.net.au: Transcript of story reported by Samantha Donovan – Victoria – ELIZABETH JACKSON: Victorian doctors are investigating whether a man’s death this week was caused by the rare mosquito-borne disease Murray Valley encephalitis. No one has died from the disease in Victoria since the 1970s.  Meanwhile Queensland health authorities are working to contain outbreaks of another disease carried by mosquitoes – dengue fever.

Samantha Donovan reports from Melbourne.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Late last month Victoria’s chief health officer warned people living along the Murray River to try and avoid being bitten by mosquitoes after Murray Valley encephalitis was found in the area.  Avoiding mosquitoes isn’t easy with slow-moving floodwaters providing an ideal breeding ground for the pest. The encephalitis had been picked up by sentinel chickens in several towns including one just over the border in NSW.  The chicken flocks have acted as a kind of early warning system for the disease since a large outbreak in 1974 in much of south-eastern Australia. But there are now concerns that the severe brain infection may have caused the death of a Victorian man earlier this week.   The University of Melbourne’s Professor Ary Hoffman says that Murray Valley encephalitis is a very rare disease carried by one of Australia’s 70 mosquito species.

ARY HOFFMAN: It’s a mosquito that breeds in freshwater systems and typically when flooding happens, when you get these major floods like we had this year and in the past, that’s when you tend to get the disease occurring.   The disease is thought to be spread from water birds, through mosquitoes to humans. It’s not so much a human-to-human spread, it’s really a water-bird-to-human spread.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: What should people then in the prone areas be doing to try and cut down the risk?

ARY HOFFMAN: Look, the species that spreads this particular virus tends to be active at dawn and dusk. So it’s important to try and avoid being bitten by mosquitoes at that time. It’s probably worth remembering that this particular virus often does not cause any symptoms at all, I mean you have to be unlucky to actually have symptoms of this virus. So just because you’re bitten by this mosquito doesn’t mean you’re going to actually get the encephalitis. So if you’re living in an environment where there has been flooding, then just make sure that you cover up, lose clothing helps. Also make sure that any potential breeding sites around your house are removed.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Dr Stephen Donohue is a spokesman for Queensland Health. He says dengue fever is the mosquito-borne disease of most concern in Queensland at the moment.

STEPHEN DONOHUE: So we’ve got a persistent outbreak now that we’ve had for a couple of months around in Innisfail and a lot of work is going on to try and reduce breeding sites and get people to avoid mosquito bites and try and bring that under control.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Roughly how many people have become ill so far?

STEPHEN DONOHUE: Two different outbreaks in Innisfail. We’ve had 46 cases of dengue [type] two so far, and eight cases of dengue type four, in fact up to half of the cases have needed some degree of fluid rehydration in hospital.

SAMANTHA DONOVAN: Dr Donohue says there haven’t been any cases of Murray River encephalitis in Queensland recently but people still need to be vigilant.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Samantha Donovan with that report.

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