Ministry of Natural Resources begins rabies bait drop program for 2024

Map of rabies baiting locations in Ontario this season. Map via Ministry of Natural Resources.

The Ministry of Natural Resources is continuing its annual rabies vaccine bait drop program. The Ministry will be using a Twin Otter aircraft to air-drop rabies vaccine packets throughout Eastern Ontario during the month of August, including the St. Lawrence area in Frontenac and Leeds & Grenville County.

According to a release from the ministry, baits help immunize most raccoons, skunks and foxes that eat them and are an important part of Ontario’s rabies control program – one of the most successful in North America.

Rabies bait. Photo via Ministry of Natural Resources.

The bait is a small blister packet filled with the rabies vaccine. Animals are immunized against rabies about two weeks after they either chew or swallow the rabies vaccine bait, according to the ministry.

The packets are khaki-green in colour, made of wax-fat, and smell like marshmallow to attract wildlife. If a bait packet is found in an area where it shouldn’t be (e.g. a private yard), residents are asked to not open it, and, after placing a plastic bag over their hand to keep their scent off the bait, move it to an area where wildlife may find it (e.g. a forested area).

Other areas of the province, such as the urban areas of Haldimand, Halton, Hamilton, and Niagara, will see bait distributed by hand beginning on Monday, Jun. 17, 2024, and through September.

“Distribution of baits by ground crews will focus on wildlife habitat, such as bushes, green spaces and ravines where animals may forage, or along fence lines, hedges and large culverts. Baits are not distributed near dog parks, schools, playgrounds, or where children are likely to be present,” the Ministry of Natural Resources said.

Ontario’s rabies vaccine baits have been tested to ensure they are safe for wildlife, people and pets. However, eating a vaccine bait does not replace the regular rabies vaccination provided by a veterinarian for your pet. If your pet has eaten a bait packet and you are concerned, contact your vet as a precaution.

Since 2015, the Ministry of Natural Resources has distributed more than nine million rabies vaccine baits and tested almost 30,000 wildlife samples, according to the release.

Read more about the ministry’s wildlife rabies control operations here.

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