Mostly Trapping

Distribution of Spring 2019 Rabies Vaccination Baits
Apr 19, 2019 10:44 ET

(Reprinted from above link)

BOURNE – The spring round of oral rabies vaccination baits are set to be spread across Cape Cod in a continued effort to control the spread of the viral disease.

Roughly 72,000 oral rabies vaccinations (ORV) will be spread throughout the Cape and portions of the mainland to prevent a reintroduction of raccoon rabies in Barnstable County. The baits are distributed by the Cape Cod Rabies Task Force and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services.

The spring distribution begins on Friday, with the baits expected to cover the towns of Plymouth, Wareham, mainland Bourne and Sandwich, and portions of Kingston, Carver, Middleboro, Rochester, and Marion.

Additionally, the task force says 27,000 baits will be spread from the Cape Cod Canal throughout the western half of Barnstable. These baits will be placed in the effort to the boost wildlife rabies vaccination rates to prevent the reemergence of raccoon rabies over the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges.

From April 22 through April 26, ORV baits will be distributed through mainland Bourne and Sandwich, Plymouth, Kingstown, Wareham, Marion, Rochester, Middleboro and Carver.

The baits will be spread across the Cape two weeks later, from May 6 through May 9 through Cape-side Bourne and Sandwich, Falmouth and Barnstable.

Director of the Yarmouth Division of Natural Resources and Co-chair of the Cape Cod Rabies Task Force Karl Von Hone took time to warn the public of the dangers of relocating potentially sick wildlife.

“One of the biggest pushes we’re doing this year is trying to get the word out to not trap and relocate wildlife. Trapping and relocating wildlife is one sure way to potentially relocate sick animals, who may have diseases such as rabies or distemper, to a healthy population,” said Von Hone.

“It may take care of your problem in the short term, however, relocating an animal will potentially create another problem for someone else, but even more so, for the animal itself. That animal is going to need to fight for its territory now, wherever it’s re-released. So, it puts that animal into harms-way.”

Von Hone adds that the first case of raccoon rabies showed up in Massachusetts in 1992, prompting the USDA Wildlife Services, the Cape Cod Rabies Task Force and Tufts University to respond with a baiting program in 1994. He says an animal illegally relocated on the Cape from the mainland is a likely possibility for the 1992 introduction of the disease to the Cape.

He warns that the Cape’s transient seasonal population makes it especially important for year-round residents to keep rabies at bay.

Coordinator of Cape Cod Rabies Program and Biologist for the USDA Wildlife Services Brian Bjorkland said the baits will be placed in areas of high human and pet density, as well as in areas of relatively poor raccoon habitat.

“We ask that if people were to find the baits to call the 1-800 number that’s stamped on the bait, and that will be routed to the Mass. Department of Public Health, and then we can document where these baits are being found so that in future baiting campaigns we know where these baits are supposed to go,” Bjorkland explained.

“We encourage all pet owners to keep their dogs on-leash and obey their town’s leash laws, especially during the baiting time. While the baits generally will not hurt your pets, we consider each dose that a dog finds a dose that is lost that could’ve gone to an unvaccinated raccoon. If your dog were to find and consume several of the baits, he or she may experience an upset stomach, but that’s generally the worst reaction we see.”

This past fall, three confirmed reports of rabies occurred in Wareham in less than a month.