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Public Post is a community reporting initiative using digital tools to report on cities and towns across Vermont.Public Post is the only resource that lets you browse and search documents across dozens of Vermont municipal websites in one place.Follow reporter Amy Kolb Noyes and #PublicPost on Twitter and read news from the Post below.

Watch Out For Falling Bait

"Look - up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a rapidly descending dose of rabies vaccine!"

This week a team led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services is taking to the sky to drop small, green raccoon baits laced with rabies vaccine. This is the 18th year of the Vermont rabies bait drop. The program is designed to slow the northerly spread of the rabies virus, and keep rabies in raccoons from crossing into Canada.

"The project is an interstate/international cooperative effort," a bait drop fact sheet states. "The research will be directed by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services. The other partners include the Vermont departments of Health and Fish & Wildlife; Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets."

The vaccine is sealed in a blister pack covered with a sweet-smelling dark green waxy coating. The coating has a label printed in black. In rural areas, the bait will be dropped from airplanes flying at an altitude of about 500 feet. Bait will be hand-placed in more densely populated areas. The Vermont Department of Heath advises anyone who finds the bait leave it untouched, unless it is discovered on a lawn or driveway. In that case, remove the bait with a glove and wash your hands with soap and water.

According to an announcementby the Vermont Department of Health, 18 of the 31 animals that have tested positive for rabies so far this year have been in Chittenden County – the state's most densely populated county.

Bait drops are scheduled in the following areas:

  • Addison County – Ferrisburgh, Monkton, Starksboro
  • Caledonia County – Barnet, Burke, Concord, Danville, Groton, Hardwick, Lyndon, Lyndonville, Newark, Peacham, Ryegate, St. Johnsbury Sheffield, Sutton, Waterford, Wheelock
  • Chittenden County – Burlington, Charlotte, Colchester, Essex, Hinesburg, Milton, St. George, Shelburne, South Burlington, Underhill, Westford, Williston, Winooski
  • Essex County – Bloomfield, Brighton, Brunswick, Canaan, East Haven, Ferdinand, Granby, Guildhall, Lemington, Lewis, Maidstone, Norton, Warner’s, Warner’s Grant, Warner’s Gore, Warren’s
  • Franklin County – all towns
  • Grand Isle County – all towns
  • Lamoille County – Belvidere, Cambridge, Eden, Hyde Park, Jeffersonville, Johnson, Morristown, Waterville, Wolcott
  • Orleans County – all towns
  • New Hampshire – several towns in Coos County

According to the project fact sheet, millions of baits have been dropped in the United States and Canada, with no ill effects reported in people or pets. The sheet states, "Even if you are exposed to the vaccine, you cannot get rabies from it. While the bait is not harmful to children, pets or other wildlife, it should not be handled or disturbed so that it can be eaten by raccoons. However, if your dog picks up a bait, do not risk getting bitten by trying to remove the bait from the dog’s mouth."

Amy is an award winning journalist who has worked in print and radio in Vermont since 1991. Her first job in professional radio was at WVMX in Stowe, where she worked as News Director and co-host of The Morning Show. She was a VPR contributor from 2006 to 2020.
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