The biggest carriers of rabies are skunks, bats and foxes. “If a human touches bodily fluids from the those animals you can contract the disease,” says Mrs. Warren, who has worked in the industry for 30 years. “There’s an extreme need to educate the public.”
Too many pet owners don’t vaccinate their beloved dogs and cats, let alone tread carefully themselves when dealing with an animal that could be rabid.
Mike Hoffer, owner of Hoffer’s Tropic Life Pets in Milwaukee, recalls a Wisconsin girl who was fortunate to survive an encounter with a rabid bat. Jeanna Giese, then 15, suffered a bat bite after picking up the creature by its wings on Sept. 12, 2004. She nearly died after symptoms of rabies developed a month later, but doctors aggressively treated her with a cocktail of drugs, making her the first person to survive rabies without a prior vaccination.
Even if a stray animal is rabies-free, people should think twice about relocating a small creature.
“People often think an animal’s mother has deserted them when there’s no truth to it,” Mr. Hoffer says. “They want to foster care them, but 99 times out of 100, the mother is gone out foraging for food and is quite satisfied with the babies being hidden.”
If someone sees a nest, for example, the best thing to do is to keep an eye on it and make sure the mother returns occasionally. That information can help a wildlife specialist. The problem is, it isn’t always easy to figure out just whom to call if the animal is on one’s property.
Mrs. Warren says a homeowner should call pest control. Various wildlife agencies have the know-how to help, but legally, it’s tricky for them to do so, she says, because different parts of the country have different boundaries for what groups can patrol what areas.
It’s just as hard figuring out if a stray baby bird is truly in trouble, says Chris Motoyoshi, executive director of Tri-State Bird Rescue & Research in Delaware.
“A lot of times people mistake fledgling baby birds for injured birds,” Ms. Motoyoshi says, adding that the most common young birds people find are songbirds such as robins and blue jays.
Like toddlers, young birds may not be able to move like their parents, but they learn quickly. They evolve from hopping on the ground to flying five to seven days after they have left the nest.
“If you see an obvious injury, or if a bird is lethargic and not responsive or if it’s sitting in the same spot for an hour, then that’s a sign something’s wrong,” Ms. Motoyoshi says.
Make sure to watch the bird in question from a distance to see if it has been abandoned. The bird’s parents won’t approach their offspring if they think a predator is watching.
Karl Kranz, vice president for animal programs with the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, says kindhearted people who handle or get too close to, say, a baby raccoon may do the creature less obvious harm.
Making animals lose their fear of people puts them in situations they normally wouldn’t be in, Mr. Kranz says.
Though some people who find the creatures may mean them no harm, others might not be so charitable. Plus, if the animals believe they can get food by hanging around people, they may not develop the skills needed to forage on their own.View Entire Story
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