BATH — None of the 28 animals trapped and euthanized by wildlife experts in March were carrying the rabies virus, according to a new report issued by Bath officials Thursday.

Twenty-four raccoons and four skunks were caught by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services and the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. However, no foxes — the species responsible for 18 attacks on people and pets in the city over the span of a year — were captured.

The program, which cost the city $26,611 and spanned from March 16 to March 30, was approved by the city council in February. The trapping program was designed to reduce the density of animal species that can carry rabies, including gray fox, red fox, skunk and raccoon. The animals must be euthanized so that brain tissue samples can be tested for rabies, a virus that infects the central nervous system in mammals. Research continues on blood samples taken, including testing for antibodies that may neutralize the rabies virus.

Wildlife experts set an average of 100 traps a night. In addition to raccoons and skunks, they caught 10 gray squirrels, 10 opossums, two red squirrels, two porcupines, a rat and a woodchuck, which were all released. Three cats were caught and turned over to the city’s animal control officer.

According to the report, the lack of foxes captured may be attributed to the type of trap used to ensure no pets would be hurt and the time of year.

Nineteen animals found dead or killed by police for odd behavior between February and May were also tested for rabies. Two raccoons, two skunks and four grey foxes tested positive.


The report includes recommendations for reducing contact with animals that carry rabies: The city should create policies and rules requiring backyard chicken operations and gardens to be fenced, composting piles to be contained, dumpsters closed at all times, discourage bird feeding and prohibit feeding wild animals that commonly carry rabies. Removing dilapidated and abandoned buildings, rubble and abandoned equipment is also advised.

Bath City Councilor Raye Leonard opposed the trapping plan, which she calls a waste of money and questions if she really knows more about the city’s rabies problem as a result of the program.

“I didn’t feel that trapping was the solution and I’m not surprised they didn’t catch any foxes,” Leonard said.

The council also agreed in March to form a rabies task force to develop a long-term rabies management program for the city and collaborating with surrounding towns.

“I anticipate that they will be working on assembling that task force here within the next few weeks, so they will be taking those recommendations and running with them,” city spokesperson Lindsey Goudreau said Thursday.

Goudreau said it’s hard to say if the trapping program was worth the money.


“We couldn’t have a specific goal for the project,” Goudreau said. “The goal was to reduce the number of rabies vector animals in the city — the number of animals that can transfer rabies.”

Council Chairperson Mari Eosco said no one could determine what good numbers would look like for capturing the animals that carry and spread rabies. However, raccoons are one of the species known to carry the virus.

“We don’t know what it would be like if we hadn’t done it,” Eosco said Thursday. “What would the reaction of the residents be if we had not done that, or maybe one of those animals (trapped and euthanized) is the one that was going to spread it to 20 other animals.”

She said the city tried to be proactive and respond to residents “who were truly scared and looking to the city to do something, and we really weren’t given many choices.”

The city will form a rabies task force and continue to be proactive, she said.

Attempts to reach the USDA for comment were unsuccessful Thursday.

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