Here’s why animal experts say you should ‘stay away from wildlife’

(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Pexels)
(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of Pexels)

Summertime is in full swing and people are out enjoying the sun with animals doing the same.

Virginia Beach Animal Control supervisor Meghan Conti said for some, summertime is “baby season” which means mothers who are away from their nests looking for food have not abandoned their young.

And, juvenile animals who might be out during the daytime are not necessarily rabid, “they’re still learning to forage for food,” Conti said.

Conti said there’s no specific time of year people are more exposed to rabid animals however, a dog in Norfolk recently killed a raccoon that tested positive for the virus.

According to a news release, the Virginia Department of Consolidated Laboratory Services in Richmond “reported the positive result late on June 25,” officials wrote.

Conti said people typically associate rabies with aggressive behavior, but the more common strain causes animals to exhibit symptoms similar to those associated with distemper.

“Usually we won’t see animals infected with rabies because they’ll just become lethargic and crawl into a hole to die,” she said.

But, if for some reason a person should encounter an oddly aggressive animal that’s “standing its ground,” Conti said don’t hesitate to report it to their office that co-works under an agreement with the local health department.

Norfolk officials said residents should report unvaccinated or stray animals to animal control and possible rabies exposures to the Norfolk Department of Public Health. 

The best way to prevent exposure is for people to keep a respectable distance and simply “stay away from all wildlife, Conti said.

Officials in Norfolk recommend these methods to reduce exposure:

  • Be sure dogs and cats are up-to-date on vaccinations.
  • Keep pets confined to home and yard.
  • Keep yards free of food that could attract wild animals.
  • Do not handle, touch or take in stray or wild animals.
  • Warn adults and children to report any animal bites or scratches.

For more information on how to deter healthy wildlife from private property, click here.

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Lucretia Cunningham is a multimedia journalist at Southside Daily covering hyper-local stories in Virginia Beach and Norfolk. Her stories focus on public safety, tourism, and city government. She is a Virginia transplant and military spouse originally from Chicago. Lucretia also served on active duty from 2006 to 2016 and started her journalism career as a broadcaster in the Virginia Air National Guard. When she’s not covering stories on the Southside, she’s covering stories with her Air National Guard unit.