Air drops of rabies vaccines begin today
DAILY SUN STAFF
Get ready for “ketchup packets” falling from the sky. Today, an aircraft will begin dropping edible rabies vaccines aimed at gray foxes in a 1,433-square-mile area that includes forests and less populated areas outside Flagstaff, Parks, Williams, Mountainaire, Kachina Village and Winona.
A total of 129,600 edible rabies vaccines targeting gray foxes will be dispersed, with 97 percent dropped by aircraft flying an east-west pattern over the area.
The remaining vaccines will be distributed in more populated areas by staff and volunteers starting Wednesday.
This is the second such operation by the U.S. Agriculture Department attempting to cut rabies rates in area wildlife, following aerial vaccine drops last year. The flights are likely to continue through Friday.
Rabies poses a danger to local pets and potentially their owners, according to the Coconino County Health Department.
To give the wildlife the best chance at eating the vaccines, the county is asking cat and dog owners throughout this area to keep all pets on their property, or on leashes, through June 25, and to make sure rabies vaccinations for pets are up-to-date.
While this is already the state law for dogs, it typically isn’t for cats.
A smaller quarantine will be in place for area pets from June 25 to Sept. 10, affecting east Flagstaff, Mount Elden and Cheshire, where skunks will be trapped and vaccinated by injection.
Technically, the request is an order from the county, but past enforcement has not led to any fines or confiscation of pets.
No person in Coconino County has ever been found to have rabies, which is deadly, but some have received treatment after possible exposures.
For maps or more information, see http://tinyurl.com/24cuyh2 or call 679-7350.