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Hanover Police Kill Two Raccoons Found to Have Rabies

Hanover — Two rabid raccoons were found and destroyed last week in Hanover.

Police responded to two separate complaints on different days of “strange acting” raccoons 6.5 miles apart — one at Fern Lane and the other at Quail Drive — Hanover Police Capt. Frank Moran said.

“It’s pretty disturbing,” Moran said, referring to what it’s like to see a rabid animal. “Generally when you see it, you know it.”

Spotted in broad daylight, unusual for the nocturnal raccoon, the animals were acting lethargic and dazed. Police said there’s reason to believe the infected animals came in contact with the pets of those who reported the raccoons, Moran said, but that the contact did not result in any sort of attack.

After police put the raccoons down, they were taken to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services laboratory in Concord where they tested positive for rabies. Moran said police do not know whether or not the callers’ pets are also being tested for rabies.

“By law you’re required to vaccinate your dogs and cats, and it’s a good idea to get your livestock vaccinated as well,” said Abigail Mathewson, surveillance epidemiology program manager and acting state public health veterinarian with N.H. Health and Human Services.

Hanover police said in a news release yesterday that any sighting of a “strange acting” wild or domestic animal — one that seems dazed, distressed, aggressive or whose movements seem impaired — should be reported immediately to Hanover police. When an “animal of concern” has had direct contact with a person or domestic animal, the state of New Hampshire provides free-of-charge rabies testing.

As of the end of April, there have been 12 positive rabies samples — found in raccoons, skunks, bobcats and a gray fox — in New Hampshire this year. The last human case of rabies in the state was in 1986, Mathewson said. As for the Hanover area, Town Manager Julia Griffin said in an email yesterday that the last rabies spike they saw was in 1995-96, which “did a fair amount to impact the raccoon, skunk and fox population.”

“Clearly a couple of ailing raccoons does not a pattern make yet,” Griffin said. “But we still think it makes sense to alert the community that we may be seeing an uptick in rabies infections.”

Griffin said they are encouraging Hanover residents to be more vigilant and keep an eye on their pets.

“I think the most important thing is really just for people to be cognizant that it is out there,” Mathewson said. “Wildlife should want to stay away from people, so if they are interacting with people that’s a bad sign.”

But Mathewson said that animals don’t have to act unusual to be rabid.

Police encourage Hanover residents to ensure their domestic pets are restrained and properly vaccinated. If bitten by an animal with rabies, the New Hampshire DHHS advises washing the flesh wound with soap and water or, if necessary, flushing the eyes, mouth or nose with water and immediately calling a doctor or health care provider.

“It’s really important to just keep a distance from wildlife,” Mathewson said. “Let wildlife be wild.”

Similarly, moose calves and deer fawns that appear abandoned are catching the eyes of hikers and pedestrians. Vermont Fish and Wildlife remind observers that although the baby animals may seem alone, their mothers are probably eating nearby and could pose a serious danger to anyone who tries to touch or pick up their young. Onlookers should observe from a distance, officials said in a news release.

— Katie Mettler can be reached at at kmettler@vnews.com.


Letter: Get Your Pets Inoculated

Thursday, May 16, 2013

To the Editor: Mid-afternoon on Mother’s Day, our Bernese mountain dog, Winslow, faced off eight feet from a very sick raccoon that was hissing, wheezing and staggering slowly. The dog had broken his lead, which was within safe reach and the confrontation ended without contact. The Hanover police immediately sent Officer Jeff Shepard, who dispatched the raccoon, retrieved it and …