ONTARIO — The provincial government is continuing to protect people and animals against rabies with an annual bait drop.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry will distribute rabies vaccine baits for wildlife throughout southern Ontario, by aircraft in rural areas and by hand in urban centres. Baits help to immunize most raccoons, skunks and foxes that eat them.
Hand baiting in urban areas will begin June 29 in Toronto, Peel, Wellington, Halton, Waterloo, Dufferin, Perth, Middlesex, Oxford, Elgin, Haldimand-Norfolk, Niagara, Hamilton, Six Nations (Ohsweken) in Brant, Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry counties. It will also occur in the city of Cornwall in mid-August.
Hand baiting targets urban skunk and raccoon habitat where the use of aircraft would not be feasible. Staff distribute the baits by hand in urban areas, focusing on raccoon and skunk 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 schools, playgrounds, or in yards with toys where children are likely to be present.
Baiting by aircraft will happen on August 6 in Frontenac and Leeds and Grenville counties. Baiting by aircraft will start August 17 in Brant, Bruce, Dufferin, Elgin, Grey, Haldimand, Halton, Hamilton, Huron, Middlesex, Metro Toronto, Niagara, Norfolk, Oxford, Peel, Perth, Simcoe, Waterloo, and Wellington.
All baiting dates are subject to change depending on weather conditions.
The khaki-green coloured bait is made of wax-fat and smells like marshmallow to attract animals. A label with a toll-free telephone number (1-888-574-6656) and the message “Do not eat” are printed on the exterior of the bait and a plastic package containing the liquid rabies vaccine is embedded in the centre. If found, the bait should not be touched, but left for raccoons, skunks and foxes to consume.
For further information about rabies in Ontario, please visit Ontario.ca/rabies or contact the ministry’s rabies information line at 1-888-574-6656.
Wildlife Technicians will be following all public health guidelines during the bait drop, including physical distancing, wearing appropriate protective equipment (masks and gloves), and hand washing/sanitizing.
- It is not harmful to a pet or person if a bait is consumed by mistake. However, contacting a doctor or veterinarian as a precaution is recommended.
- Ontario’s bait drop program is one of the most successful rabies control programs in North America.
- Since the start of a rabies outbreak in 2015 – the first of its kind in over a decade – the ministry has taken action to protect communities by distributing over five million vaccine baits, focusing on a 50-km area around where all the rabies cases were discovered.
- Since 2016, rabies cases have declined in Ontario by approximately 50 percent each year.
If a person contracts rabies and does not receive treatment, the disease is fatal.