Raccoons are known for being a nuisance.
These masked bandits are most well known for the garbage messes and lawn damage that they create at night.
For the most part, their damage is nothing more than annoying. On rare occasions, however, raccoons have also been known for carrying rabies.
Wondering what has been done in Hamilton, Ontario about the fairly recent outbreak of raccoon rabies? Here’s what you should know.
2017 Raccoon Rabies Incidents Much Fewer than in 2016
The number of raccoon rabies incidents in Ontario has declined drastically over the past two years.
During 2016 there were 127 cases of the raccoon strain types in Hamilton compared to only 45 in 2017.
Even after seeing this drastic decline, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) decided to continue its vaccine bait program this past summer.
The Origins of the Rabies Outbreak
A multi-agency report entitled “Raccoon Rabies Outbreak in Hamilton, Ontario: A Progress Report” cites the rabies outbreak’ origins as a long-distance translocation into the area from New York.
The report concluded that an infected raccoon was transported into the area via shipping or transport truck.
The outbreak was brought to the attention of Hamilton officials in December 2015 when two dogs got into a fight with a sick raccoon while in the care of Animal Services. Tests showed that the raccoon had rabies.
Soon after, the Ministry of Natural Resources began testing all sick and dead raccoons collected by the city. Many tests were positive for raccoon rabies, even though the disease had not been found in Ontario for over ten years.
The City of Hamilton along with the Ministry of Natural Resources then launched a public service campaign to warn area residents about the outbreak.
Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s Vaccine Bait Program
Even though the number of raccoon rabies incidents was already on the decline, the MNRF wanted to reduce the number even further.
Over this past summer, its vaccine bait program was spread by hand and aircraft. Hundreds of traps were set up in the Hamilton and Burlington area to help vaccinate raccoons and skunks before releasing them back into the wild.
The baiting program, already responsible for containing the outbreak area and reducing the number of rabies cases, has cost $8.6 million over the past three years.
Wildlife advocacy group, The Ontario Wildlife Coalition, criticizes the MNRF, saying that their solution is not cost effective since contracting raccoon rabies isn’t a huge risk to humans.
The MNRF remains firm that the rabies outbreak needs to be controlled and eliminated.
Habitat Wildlife Control – Keeping You Safe in Hamilton, Ontario
Although the risk for a rabid raccoon in Hamilton has drastically decreased, it’s still a possibility. If you have a raccoon problem on your property, it’s best to call in an expert for help with removal.