Quebec government testing raccoons for rabies

Quebec dropped 640,000 vaccine baits from planes this summer hoping that it will mean another year of rabies-free raccoons in the province and now they seeing if it worked.

Government advises pet owners to keep their animals inside while it traps raccoons to test them

Some of Montreal's raccoons will be caught and tested for rabies between now and Oct. 20.

Quebec dropped 640,000 vaccine baits from planes this summer hoping it will mean another year of rabies-free raccoons, and now some are being rounded up to see if it worked.   

Raccoons are being trapped in Montérégie, the Eastern Townships and Montreal parks where the vaccines were dropped.

The testing started Monday and will continue until Oct. 20.

Pierre Canac-Marquis, who has helped coordinate government raccoon vaccination campaigns, said the air-dropped vaccine is as effective as injections.

"With this oral vaccine they get similar results to a tradition injection, which required manipulating the animals," he said. 

Decline in rabies

Quebec has been working to reduce rabies in raccoons for years. It does so to ensure domestic animals don't contract the virus and give it to their owners.  

The province had 66 cases of rabies in 2007 and with government vaccine initiatives, that dropped to zero by 2010. There were no reported cases of rabies between 2010 and 2015.

Raccoons that are caught for government tests will be released in the same area where they were found.

Keep pets inside

The Ministry of Forests, Wildlife and Parks is using cages to trap raccoons on Mount Royal park. It is advising pet owners to keep their animals inside so they don't accidentally get trapped.

The ministry says that if domestic animals do wander into a trap they will be released quickly.

with files from The Canadian Press and Radio-Canada's Michel Marsolais