Katie O’Donnell, Public Information Officer
Fort Collins, CO – As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, outdoor activities become a focus in Larimer County. It’s the time of year where skunks, raccoons and other wildlife are giving birth and many cute baby animals can be found in our county. While it’s tempting to touch or “help” these animals, please remember these animals can carry diseases, including rabies. They are wild animals and need to be left alone and not handled.
Rabies is on the rise in Larimer county, with 18 rabid skunks and two bats already confirmed this year. Rabid cats have also been found in Weld County.
Skunk rabies may pose a greater risk to pets and people because—as ground-based animals—they may interact more with people and pets than a rabid bat. Rabies can infect any warm-blooded mammal, but is most commonly found in Larimer County in bats and skunks.
If you see a skunk or bat that’s behaving strangely, keep your distance and call the Larimer Humane Society’s animal control number at 226-3647, #7. Unusual skunk behavior can include being out during the daytime, being aggressive, turning in circles, or appearing tame and unafraid of people or pets.
The Department of Health and Environment reminds pet owners to keep their animals up-to-date on rabies vaccinations to prevent lengthy and costly quarantines—or even euthanasia—if pets have an encounter with a rabid animal. Livestock owners should check with their veterinarians about rabies vaccinations for their horses, cattle, and other livestock.
Ways to protect you and your family:
- Do not feed or touch wildlife.
- Teach children to observe wildlife from a distance and to notify an adult if there is a wild animal in the area or if they are bitten or scratched.
- Eliminate food sources for wild animals by not feeding pets outdoors, closing pet doors especially at night, and tightly closing garbage cans and feed bins.
- Ensure that your pets, horses and livestock are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.
For the latest information on rabies in Larimer County, visit http://www.larimer.org/rabies.