Local News

Homeowners often responsible for trapping rabid animals

Posted July 13, 2009 5:59 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2009 6:20 p.m. EDT

— As development encroaches on animal habitats around the Triangle, more homeowners find it's up to them to remove unwanted animals from their property, including some that might have rabies.

Durham County Animal Control Director Cindy Bailey said limited resources prevent her officers from going after every animal in someone's yard, unless the animal poses a threat.

"Is it trying to attack you? Is it attacking your lawn mower? Is it attacking your water hose?" Bailey said. "Every county has its limitations. We can't do everything."

Cheryl Fuller recently found out firsthand what those limitations mean for residents. She had just moved to a home near the Streets at Southpoint mall when she spotted a fox in her yard that looked sick. A half-hour later, the animal was dead.

Animal control officers eventually removed the animal's carcass and sent it for testing. Tests came back positive for rabies.

Durham County has had five confirmed cases of rabid foxes so far this year. One attacked a girl outside a church preschool.

Fuller told officers she also had seen some kits nearby, but they told her to contact a private company to trap the young animals since they didn't know if the kits belonged to the dead fox.

"We do not have the licenses that you need from the state nor the resources nor knowledge or abilities that these other companies have," Bailey said.

Animal control officials in Wake County said they also lack a state license to trap wild animals. Orange County Animal Control does  have such a license, officials said, and the department will trap animals on a case-by-case basis.

Fuller said estimates from the trapping companies vary from $400 to $700. Her neighbor, Mark Saulter, said he would be willing to chip in to remove the kits if other neighbors also shared the costs.

"Obviously, they could be rabid as well," Saulter said. "There is a risk, and it would be nice if it could be dealt with."