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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Tennessee dropping oral rabies bait along it's border with Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia in an effort to minimize rabies outbreaks in racoons-- Is it likely that 300-400 years ago rabies outbreaks were minimal because wolves, cougars and bobcats assisted Bears in keeping mesocarnivore populations (raccoons and skunks) in check?

Wild raccoons to be vaccinated for rabies

    State and federal officials are working together to vaccinate wild raccoons for rabies.
    The Tennessee Department of Health and the United States Department of Agriculture will be distributing an oral rabies vaccine for wild raccoons along Tennessee's borders with Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, starting October 1.
    "We are pleased to be part of this important and effective program to prevent rabies and protect the health of Tennesseans," said Health Commissioner Susan R. Cooper, MSN, RN. "We also want to remind pet owners of the importance of having rabies vaccinations current for all domestic animals to ensure their health and safety."
    Vaccine packets placed inside fishmeal blocks or coated with fishmeal will be distributed throughout a 15 county area in Tennessee. The barrier varies from 30 to 60 miles wide and covers approximately 3,400 square miles, running along the Georgia border in southeast Tennessee near Chattanooga to the Virginia/North Carolina border in northeast Tennessee. Baits will be distributed by hand from vehicles in urban and suburban areas and by dropping from specially equipped airplanes in rural areas.
    The oral rabies vaccine will be distributed October 1 through 10 in Carter, Cocke, Greene, Hamblen, Hawkins, Sullivan, Unicoi and Washington Counties. Bait distribution will take place from October 7 through 15 in Bradley, Hamilton, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Monroe and Polk Counties.
    "Rabies is most common in wild animals in Tennessee, and it poses a risk to humans and domestic animals that come into contact with wildlife," said L. Rand Carpenter, DVM, assistant state public health veterinarian. "Control of raccoon rabies is vital to public health and we are very supportive of this USDA effort."
    This is the ninth year Tennessee has participated in baiting with rabies vaccine to slow and possibly halt the spread of raccoon rabies.
    Two raccoons have been diagnosed with rabies in the eastern part of Tennessee so far this year. Since raccoon rabies was first detected in Tennessee in 2003, the disease has spread much less rapidly here than has been documented in other areas of the United States.
    Although the vaccine products are safe, the USDA Wildlife Services program has issued these precautions:
    • If you or your pet finds bait, confine your pet and look for other baits in the area. Toss baits into a wooded or fencerow area. These baits should be removed from where your pet could easily eat them. While eating these baits will not harm your pet, consuming several baits might upset your pet's stomach.
    • Do not attempt to remove the oral rabies vaccine packet from your pet's mouth, as you could be bitten.
    • Wear gloves or use a towel when you pick up bait. While there is no harm in touching undamaged baits, they have a strong fishmeal smell. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water if there is any chance that the vaccine packet has been ruptured.
    • Instruct children to leave baits alone.
    • There is a warning label placed on each bait advising people not to touch the bait. The warning also contains the rabies information line telephone number.
    For additional information concerning rabies prevention or the oral rabies vaccine program, call the USDA Wildlife Services toll-free rabies line at 1-866-487-3297 or the Tennessee Department of Health at 1-615-741-7247. Or go to this website.

    As a reminder to help prevent exposure to animals that can carry rabies, the Tennessee Department of Health recommends that individuals enjoy wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats from a distance and keep pets up-to-date on rabies vaccination. The CDC also has a website to help educate children about rabies.

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