Rabies vaccine bait drop

The rabies vaccine bait drop began in Vermont in August. It is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Agriculture that began in 1997 to help prevent raccoon rabies and to keep it from spreading north across the Canadian border.

The quarter-size blister packs will be dropped from low-flying aircraft in rural areas of Vermont. This includes in the Mad River Valley and surrounding area: Moretown, Waitsfield, Middlesex and Waterbury. A switch allows pilots to keep bait from being dropped on roads, homes and areas where people are likely to be. In more densely populated areas, teams of two will carefully place bait by hand, out of obvious sight.

Rabies vaccine is wrapped in sweet-scented bait attractive to raccoons and skunks. The bait is a blister pack covered with a dark-green waxy coating; the dark green coating has a label printed in black (see the photo).

Millions of baits have been dropped with no ill effects reported in people or pets. Even if exposed to the vaccine, people cannot get rabies from it. While the bait is not harmful to children, pets or other wildlife, it should not be handled or disturbed. Those who come across the bait are asked to leave it where it is so that it can be eaten by raccoons. If a dog picks up a bait, do not risk getting bitten by trying to remove the bait from the dog’s mouth.

Keep children away from the bait. If a pet eats a bait or a pet or child brings one home, call the Vermont Rabies Hotline 1-800-472-2437 (toll free in Vermont) to report it.