February 21, 2020
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Amid growing rabies concern, Bath plans to trap and kill wild animals

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
A fox with a rodent in its mouth pauses after crossing a road in Phippsburg in 2010.

In response to multiple attacks by foxes over the past several months, the city of Bath is planning to trap and euthanize wild animals over a 10-day period.

City Manager Peter Owen says the plan, proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, involves euthanizing animals regardless of whether or not they show signs of rabies.

“My reaction to it was, ‘What, are you kidding, really,” Owen said. “But the idea of capturing animals and then having to keep them separated, and who’s going to handle them, where would you do that housing and for how long?”

Owen said it’s extreme, but the small midcoast city is in an extreme situation.

“We’ve got people who are afraid and not even willing to put their children out to wait for the bus. So we’ve got a population that is very scared, so this is an extreme measure for an extreme event,” he said.

Owen said there’s no rabies test for live animals. The goal of the plan, approved by the City Council, is to reduce the number of animals that might be infected with rabies, he said.

The USDA and the city this month will set 20 traps, which it will check twice daily for 10 days.

A spokesperson for the city of Bath said there’s no way to determine how many animals may be trapped and killed.

“The City of Bath is meeting with the USDA on Thursday to discuss plans for trapping. Until plans have been made, it is impossible to estimate how many animals will be caught over the 10 day period,” the spokesperson said.

Owen is hoping to hold a public meeting next week to explain the plan.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.


Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that up to 400 wild animals could be caught and killed under the plan. It’s unclear how many animals will be killed.

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