Report on Rabies in Alaska’s Fox population; Oregon and Rhode Island residents discuss hiring professional trappers to protect stock, pets, and property from Coyotes, Cougars, and Beavers; Rabies reports from Georgia, New Jersey (2), New Mexico, North Carolina (3), and Texas (3); and a Coyote report from Rhode Island. Canada: Coyote reports from Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Ontario.

Arctic Fox Winter Coat_eisfuchscele4_Marcel Burkhard_Wikipedia Commons

Alaska 03/25/11 state.ak.us: State of Alaska Epidemiology Bulletin – Rabies is enzootic among the fox populations of northern and western Alaska, with periodic epizootics (epidemics among animals) documented every 3 to 5 years. The last epizootic was in 2006–07. Although rabies has been documented in animals every month of the year, most cases are usually reported during early fall through early spring. In early spring, foxes tend to move inland off the sea ice, increasing the likelihood that they come into contact with domestic animals or humans. Dogs can readily serve as a transmission vehicle of rabies virus from wildlife to humans; therefore, it is especially critical during these seasons to ensure that adequate rabies prevention and control measures are in place. Reducing rabies in Alaska fox populations is not yet feasible; therefore, the mainstays of preventing human rabies cases are public education of the risk in the wildlife (fox) population, vaccination of domestic animals against rabies, and prompt administration of rabies post-exposure prophylaxis to persons potentially exposed to rabies virus. Of the 16 animals evaluated for rabies from January 1 through

Artic Fox Summer Coat_Andreas Tille _Wikipedia Commons.

March 23, 2011 at the Alaska State Virology Laboratory (ASVL) in Fairbanks, nine tested positive (Table). Five were arctic foxes and four were red foxes. Although no humans were exposed to the rabid animals, several dogs were attacked. Dogs not previously vaccinated against rabies were euthanized.

 Animal Rabies, January–March 23, 2011

Animal – Date tested positive – Borough or Census Area

Arctic Fox Jan 25 North Slope

Red Fox Feb 11 Northwest Arctic

Arctic Fox Feb 22 Nome

Arctic Fox Mar 3 North Slope

Arctic Fox Mar 3 North Slope

Red Fox Mar 3 Bethel

Arctic Fox Mar 10 North Slope

Red Fox Mar 16 Northwest Arctic

Red Fox Mar 16 Bethel

 All rabid animals came from Alaska’s north and west coasts. Finding rabies in an animal from one village signals the need for heightened awareness and prevention activities in that village. However, because rabies is reservoired in mobile fox populations with occasional spill-over to dogs, a positive result also signals broader geographic risk. There is no current systematic surveillance of rabies among Alaska fox populations.

 Oregon 03/24/11 capitalpress.com: by Craig Reed – Under the cover of darkness, a coyote wriggles under a pasture fence with the intent of feasting on a lamb or two. In the early morning fog, a cougar prowls a rural road in search of livestock or domestic pets. In broad daylight, beavers dam up a culvert. These common scenarios result in dead livestock, missing pets and damaged property. For decades Wildlife Services, a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, has been there to help with such problems. But budget shortfalls mean Wildlife Services specialists may not be available to handle troublesome wildlife. In Douglas County, Ore., there’s a $35,000 budget shortfall for the service. If the money can’t be raised, Wildlife Services may have to furlough its three trappers in the county for May and June, when lambs and calves are particularly vulnerable.

Stakeholders met to discuss future funding for the 26 trapper specialists who work in 26 Oregon counties that participate in the Wildlife Services program on March 9. Wildlife Services and the Association of Oregon Counties organized the gathering that attracted 23 people, representing such groups as Oregon Farm Bureau, Oregon Sheep Growers, Oregon Cattlemen’s Association, Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Hunters Association, Oregon Aquaculture Association and Oregon Forest Industries Council.

“There was definitely some frustration expressed,” said Dave Williams, the state director of Wildlife Services for Oregon. “Wildlife Services can’t do what it was able to do two to three years ago due to a loss of funds.” Williams said those at the meeting supported working together to maintain what is in place. They agreed to create an advocacy group to explore different funding sources and discussed how other states’ programs work. “We didn’t hash out any specifics,” Williams said. “It was more about sharing how a program is put together in Wyoming that really does have a focus on protecting livestock.” Williams explained the Wyoming program is funded by a per head fee for sheep and cattle, county governments, sportsmen, the state and the federal Wildlife Services program. He said he hoped discussing that program would instigate brainstorming about options in Oregon.

In Douglas County, the local Farm Bureau has contributed $5,500 to keep the trappers working in May and June. The Douglas County Livestock Association added $1,000.

Farmers and ranchers say they shouldn’t bear alone the cost of preventing wildlife from killing livestock, eating crops, damaging property and threatening humans. “Wildlife is publicly owned, so the public shares a responsibility in controlling wildlife damage,” said Dan Dawson, who runs a sheep and cattle operation in the Roseburg area. Currently, the county supplies more than half of the Wildlife Services’ $221,000 budget to employ and equip the three trappers. Federal and state agencies contribute smaller amounts. The budget shortfall is a combination of reduced money from the county over previous years and not enough contracted work from other agencies.

Douglas County Commissioner Doug Robertson predicted the trappers won’t be furloughed. “We recognize the agricultural industry is one of our mainstays, so we want to continue to support it,” he said. “I’m confident we’ll get through the current year without any changes.” The bigger challenge, Robertson said, will be in the following years. If the federal government reduces payments that compensate Douglas County for revenue it loses due to restrictions on logging on federal lands, “then we may have to make some different choices,” Robertson said. That is a problem faced by all Oregon counties that depend on Wildlife Services. The ranchers warn that if trappers aren’t here to stop predators on agricultural lands, the animals will become more prevalent in urban areas. “The wolves will be here in a couple of years, and we’re going to be in big trouble if we have no (trapping) program then,” said Doug Singleton, a rancher near Glide, Ore. “If the wolves are here and nobody is here to control them, it’s going to get ugly. We’ve already got enough trouble dealing with coyotes and cougars.”

Rhode Island 03/25/11 projo.com: by Thomas J. Morgan – (Excerpt) “Just last week, a coyote leaped a four-foot fence and attacked a dog. There have been other instances where people were out walking and coyotes have followed them. Or, they’re going onto people’s decks and staring at them through a window. Or, when people are cooking outdoors, they’ll circle them, causing fear.”  That’s how Police Chief Anthony M. Pesare described the local mood Thursday as the town prepares to solve its coyote problem by invoking an old Rhode Island tradition — hiring a hit man. The problem in need of a cure is what happens after Wile E. Coyote wanders into the backyard and meets Fluffy. “It’s got its humorous side,” Town Council President Arthur S. Weber Jr. said Thursday. “But when something happens to your pet — well, you see signs on telephone poles about missing cats, missing dogs. We think a lot of them are being taken by coyotes.” Thus, the hired gun. Well, “hire” is not entirely accurate. A hunter has agreed to take on the task and is asking only to be reimbursed for expenses, Pesare said. He declined to name the individual, saying the operation won’t become official until the council amends an ordinance to allow use of the rifle of the hunter’s choice, which he said fires a high-velocity “varmint” round. Council action is expected next week. Weber said that there have been several instances of coyotes behaving badly in the past several months. “They’re coming into yards and killing or maiming pets,” he said. “And, there’s a possibility that a toddler might be in the yard, and there might be a problem with that.” Pesare said his department has had at least two reports in the last six months where coyotes attacked and killed pets.  (For complete article go to http://www.projo.com/news/content/COYOTE_HUNTER_03-25-11_HHN6BQH_v12.194060c.html )

Georgia 03/25/11 accessnorthga.com: by Marc Eggers – A rabid fox has been captured in the Belton Bridge Road area of northern Hall County, according to Nikki Young, Public Information Officer for the county. According to Young, the fox came into contact with a cat on Wednesday, March 23, before being shipped to the Georgia Public Health Lab in Decatur. Young said that this is Hall County’s fourth confirmed rabies case of 2011. Positive alert signs will be posted in the area where the rabid fox was located. Young said If you live in this area and you see an animal acting abnormally, contact Hall County Animal Services at 770-531-6830, or during non-working hours call Hall County Dispatch at 770-536-8812.

New Jersey 03/24/11 pressofatlanticcity.com: by Joel Landau – A rabid raccoon attacked a Pleasantville man and his two dogs last week, forcing the man to undergo treatment and sending the dogs to a 6-month quarantine because they were not vaccinated. The county’s Division of Public Health confirmed the March 18 attack Thursday — the sixth rabid raccoon collected in Atlantic County this year. Rabies is fatal if not properly treated and the Atlantic County Animal Shelter offers a free monthly rabies vaccination clinic to residents each month. The next clinic will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday at the clinic on 240 Old Turnpike Road in Pleasantville. The Middle Township Police Department also put out a release Thursday warning of an increase in calls regarding racoons behaving strangely. The release notes there have been no confirmed cases of rabies so far this year in Cape May County. For more information or if you have been exposed to an animal with rabies, contact the facility at 609-485-2345 or online.

New Jersey 03/24/11 northjersey.com: by Debra Winters – Police shot and killed a fox exhibiting signs of rabies after a resident reported seeing it in their backyard on Foxboro Road, nearby to where another possibly rabid fox attacked residents, authorities said. A call came into police headquarters at about 2 p.m. Sunday, reporting a mangy and sick looking fox lying down by a fence. Officer Robert Fernandez, using a shotgun kept in his patrol car, shot the fox twice, placed it in a garbage bag and brought it to Wayne Animal Shelter, located on Pompton Plains Crossroads, stated Wayne Police Capt. James Clarke. It’s expected that officials will send the body to the state to be tested for rabies, he added. According to police, the fox that was shot is not believed to be the same fox that attacked two children, a woman, and a dog last month. “If this was the same fox experts tell us it would have expired within a week of when it was seen a month ago,” Clarke said. Police believe that since the fox was not running away or avoiding humans that it most likely was suffering from rabies and was most likely in the last stages of the disease. Warnings went out to residents at the time the initial sightings occurred within hours of each other on Feb. 23.

New Mexico 03/24/11 kob.com: by Joe Bartels – (Excerpt) A skunk in Artesia tested positive for rabies Thursday. (For complete article go to http://www.kob.com/article/stories/S2034612.shtml?cat=504 )

North Carolina 03/25/11 charlotteobserver.com: by Joe DePriest – Gaston County has confirmed the second positive rabies case this year, authorities reported today. .A Stanley resident called Gaston County Police Department Animal Control on Tuesday about a raccoon that had attacked a goat and domestic fowl belonging to his neighbor. The raccoon tested positive for rabies at the State Diagnostics Lab in Raleigh.

At the request of the state veterinarian, the owner of the goat surrendered the animal to Animal Control where it was euthanized and is being tested for rabies, authorities said. Gaston health officials have been notified and animal-control officials will be canvassing the immediate area where the incident took place, advising residents of what happened and verifying pet rabies vaccinations. The county’s first rabies case of 2011, involving a puppy, was confirmed in February, according to Sgt. J.F. Phil with animal control.

North Carolina 03/25/11 wwaytv3.com: (Excerpt) The first rabies case of the year has been confirmed in a stray cat in New Hanover County. NHC Animal Control officers were called to the Bryan Road area of Wilmington on March 19. The cat was taken to an area veterinarian and treated for what appeared to be injuries from a dog fight. The cat was then taken to animal control for the required confinement period, during which the cat’s condition worsened. The feline was euthanized and test results confirmed rabies. Residents of the Bryan Road area have been notified that the cat may have been showing signs of the rabies virus since March 8, based upon clinical signs. A number of people came in contact with the animal and have been advised of possible exposure.  (For complete article go to http://www.wwaytv3.com/2011/03/25/rabies-case-confirmed-new-hanover-county )

North Carolina 03/24/11 wchl1360.com: Orange County Animal Services has announced that another raccoon in Orange County has tested positive for rabies. This past Sunday, an Orange County resident was walking her dog when it jumped into a ditch to go after the raccoon.  The woman called Animal Control and the raccoon was removed for testing. Fortunately the dog was current with its rabies vaccine, so it was only required to get a booster shot, as required by North Carolina law. This marks the fourth positive rabies test of 2011 in Orange County and all have involved raccoons.  Last year there were 11 positive rabies tests and 12 in 2009—still a far cry from the peak year of 1997, when Animal Services reported 106 cases.

Rhode Island 03/25/11 projo.com: by Bryan Rourke – In response to growing concerns about coyotes on Aquidneck Island, the Newport Police Department is issuing an advisory. Protect your pets. While coyotes normally eat mice, rabbits and squirrels, said Lt. William Fitzgerald, a cat or small dog could make for a meal. Don’t leave your pet’s food outdoors and keep your trash cans covered, Fitzgerald said.  “Inform young children never to approach wild animals,” he said. In February, more than 300 people attended a so-called “coyote summit” in neighboring Middletown, which is now looking to hire a hunter to curb the town’s coyote problems. Any Newport residents who see coyotes acting aggressively or posing a potential problem should call the police at (401) 847-1212.

Texas 03/25/11 myplainview.com: Billy Meyer was attacked by a cow while feeding cattle at his farm southeast of Quitaque. The cow knocked Meyer to the ground and roughed him up before he managed to escape and get to his pickup and call for help. The cow tested positive for rabies. This is the third verified case of rabies in the area within the past two months.

Texas 03/25/11 connectamarillo.com: by Travis Ruiz – The Potter County Sheriff’s Department is warning the public about rabies in the area. A third confirmed case of rabies in Potter County was found in the Rolling Hills area Tuesday night. A resident’s dog was found attacking and killing a skunk. The skunk was positively tested for rabies and the dog owners had to put their dog to sleep. The Health Department is also in contact with the dog owners to evaluate their need for rabies inoculations because of their contact with the dog. Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas is now urging all pet owners to make sure their animals are vaccinated against rabies. He says those with animals need to make sure their animals are under direct supervision so no direct contact is made with any wild animals. Sheriff Thomas stresses that residents should pay attention to stray animals or wildlife out during unusual times of the day or coming closer to homes. This marks the 13th case of rabies reported in the Panhandle, including 12 skunks and one cow.

Texas 03/24/11 alpineavalanche.com: The City of Alpine Animal Control Department announced that some wildlife recently tested positive for rabies in the Alpine area. “We ask that you please follow our guidelines and do not allow your animals to roam,” said Codi McCorkle, the city’s Animal Control officer. “Although unlikely, a currently vaccinated animal can still contract rabies. Allowing your animal to wander increases the risks of exposure.”

Canada:

Alberta 03/24/11 airdrieecho.com: by Marie Pollock – (Excerpts) The City of Airdrie is advising residents to take proper precautions after a number of coyote sightings.  For more information, non-emergency situations and to report coyote sightings, call the Alberta Government’s coyote hotline at 403-297-7789.  To report incidents or injured coyotes, call Alberta Fish and Wildlife at 403-297-6423 or 1-800-642-3800 for after hours. (For complete article go to http://www.airdrieecho.com/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=3040945 )

Nova Scotia 03/25/11 thechronicleherald.ca: by Clare Mellor – Mike Boudreau holds up a tin can filled with pennies and covered with tinfoil. The homemade noisemaker is just one of the items Nova Scotians can take with them in the woods or on park trails to scare off coyotes, says Boudreau, a wildlife conflict biologist with the provincial Natural Resources Department. Instructions on how to make one are on the department website. Air horns, bells and walking sticks are also items the government recommends for enjoying the great outdoors.

On Thursday, the department unveiled new materials, including an online video, signage and bookmarks, advising Nova Scotians on how to avoid coyotes and letting them know what to do if one acts aggressively toward them. The information is available at www.gov.ns.ca/natr and at Natural Resources Department offices. It is also being distributed to all schools throughout the province. “We are really coming into the time of the year where a lot of Nova Scotians will be getting out into the woods and the fields with the better weather, and we thought it was an appropriate time to launch our educational materials,” Charlie Parker, minister of natural resources, said at a news conference at the Museum of Natural History in Halifax. The department is emphasizing that people should remember the BAM rule if they encounter a coyote. The acronym stands for Back Away. Act Big. Make Noise.

Boudreau said it is estimated that there are about 8,000 to 12,000 coyotes in Nova Scotia. An increase in encounters with coyotes prompted the province to provide a $20 per pelt incentive for professional trappers to harvest coyotes. The trapping season ends March 31. Boudreau said it is not yet known how many coyotes have been trapped with the incentive.  He said encounters with problem coyotes appear to be on the rise in Nova Scotia. “Coyotes seem to be becoming a little more habituated to us, and when they do, that is when conflicts arise.”

Members of the media were asked to provide identification to enter the news conference, which was held on the museum’s lower floor behind a locked door. A museum staffer said officials were concerned that animal activists might try to attend the event. No protesters were seen in or around the museum.

Ontario 03/25/11 saultstar.com: by Marguerite Lahaye – Gros Cap residents may be enchanted by the call of the wild, but not when it’s howling a stone’s throw away from their doorsteps. They recently told councillors they’re fed up at being besieged by packs of coyotes prowling for dinner. “There’s people feeding them,” said the group’s spokesman Jason Lane, who expressed alarm at the animals’ boldness. “I’ve seen them going up my driveway in the evening,” Lane said, “We can’t go out at dusk and dawn. We don’t let our kids out alone. “These animals have become fearless of people.”

Animal control officer Steph Moore explained that the township cannot stop residents from feeding predators until it has a bylaw in place to ban the practice and set appropriate fines. “The person feeding the coyotes denies feeding them,” Moore said. “I can prove that he’s feeding them, but there’s nothing in the bylaw that says he can’t feed them.” The Ministry of Natural Resources may set regulations prohibiting rural residents from feeding wild animals, but Moore noted that so far the MNR has taken no steps to prevent encounters between Prince residents and the coyotes. “We’re on our own,” she said.

What Moore hopes to see is a municipal bylaw that would ease the nuisance coyote problem without encroaching on the MNR’s jurisdiction, Coun. Amy Zuccato recommended that council act promptly by hiring licensed trapper Gary Reed to trap the animals until such a bylaw is passed. “At most, it’s going to cost us $500 to $1,000,” said Zuccato. The traps, which Zuccato said do not maim the captured animals, could be set near the ice on Lake Superior or on residential property with the property owner’s permission. Coun. Bobbi Williamson agreed, adding that individuals who interfere with traps can be charged.

Moore stressed that there are pressing reasons not to feed wildlife. For one thing, foreign foodstuffs can make them sick. “You have sick animals running around, which is terrifying,” she said. And if the food doesn’t make them sick, it results in a population explosion. “They’re getting more food than they can come by naturally, so they’re having huge litters,” she said. The danger also exists that a coyote will mate with a household pet, producing a litter of hybrid pups, whose owner may not realize “there’s a wild animal mixed in there,” said Moore.

After a lengthy discussion, council agreed to have Reed set up traps, and Moore promised to study bylaws from municipalities where residents are prohibited from setting out food for wildlife, so that Prince can start drafting its own. “If it has to do with animals, I’m working on it,” she said.  In the meantime, Moore said, residents who are in imminent danger from coyotes should call 911. Those who wish to contact Moore may call 705-257-0511.

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