If you read my previous post, Trapped in the Can, you know that raccoons are regular visitors to our yard and garbage can. They are cute but they can make a mess. One of the other bad things about raccoons is they may carry rabies.
Each year Lake County, Ohio, has a raccoon/skunk bait drop of rabies vaccine. Tasty fishmeal tidbits are dropped from airplanes and hand distributed in likely habitat. Another method is live trapping and vaccination. We got a notice this year asking for our permission to let the USDA/Wildlife Division place traps on our property for the purpose of vaccination. We allowed the traps in a prior year but no raccoons “took the bait.” We signed up again this year and two traps were placed behind the shed in our back yard. I thought behind the garbage can would be a better spot but the USDA must have known what they were doing because when I checked the traps the first morning two raccoons had been caught. Both were looking somewhat forlorn at their predicament. A third raccoon ran away as I walked up. I guess their buddy was visiting them in lock-up!
The next day, no raccoons. On the third day the two traps were occupied again! One was tagged so I guess he didn’t learn his lesson the first time. He must not be one of the smart raccoons. Maybe the new one was the visitor from the first day and the others had dared him to enter the trap. They all appeared to be young ones. Kids!
No more traps have been placed since. The USDA must have decided these same raccoons were going to show up every day and moved on. We have done our civic duty to help protect the local raccoon population. This also protects any cats or dogs that may get into a spat with said raccoons. Humans too, if any are brave (foolhardy) enough to get that close!
Notes about rabies
Rabies is a virus that is spread from animal to animal and to humans if scratched or bitten. In early summer we saw what appeared to be a rabid raccoon. We were driving down a local road in the middle of the day and saw a small raccoon reeling drunkenly in the middle of the road. At first I thought it might have been hit by a car but after watching it for a while I could tell it was sick. People in cars were reluctant to move forward for fear of running over it. Just when we thought it had moved off it would wander back onto the road again. A gentleman in a truck finally got out and attempted to shoo it off the road with his ball cap. It grabbed the ball cap when it should have run away. He picked up the cap and it stayed attached. He gently shook it off in the weeds along the side of the road. It probably died soon after. It didn’t even snarl or snap it was so far gone.
This highlights some of the signs of a rabid raccoon:
- Out in the middle of the day
- Drunken behavior due to paralysis of limbs
- Loss of fear of humans
Rabid raccoons may also be aggressive toward humans and pets, salivate profusely or foam at the mouth, and may exhibit facial paralysis.
If you are bitten or scratched by any wild animal head to the nearest urgent care or emergency room immediately. Keep your pet up to date with their vaccinations and if your pet is in a fight with a wild animal take them to a vet right away. Call 911 or your local animal control office to report any wild animal acting strangely, especially if it has lost it’s fear of humans or pets.