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Rabies Cases Increase This Year

It you've noticed that there seems to be more raccoons than usual running around this summer, that's because there are--and Animal Control Officer Mark Harper gives a word of caution. ?"The biggest problem with wildlife is rabies. That's the number one concern in town right now. It's been a big problem this year," he said.

Harper, who said Weston was the second town in the state to report any rabies cases, had virtually no problems before 1991. "It came with a bang, boy we had an unbelievable couple of years," he said. "We had no rabies here and we had a very large, happy population of raccoons and other animals...we had raccoons running around chasing people, it was really chaotic around town."??Animal Control only tests animals for rabies if they are domestic pets or if they have come in contact with a human. Of the five tests he has sent out this year, all five have come back positive.?And although the rabies population has surged this year, the numbers may change for next year.

"Rabies goes in peaks and valleys and what that means is people get a spike like we did this year because the raccoon population has increased. So we had a bad year this year and so many of the raccoons are infected, you'll have a big die off and next year we'll probably be slower than this year, although you never can tell," he said

But seeing raccoons in the daytime is not necessarily reason to panic, says Dara Reid, the director of Wildlife in Crisis, an animal sanctuary in Weston. She said contrary to popular belief, raccoons often come out during the day to get some sun, or to find food, so there is not necessarily reason to panic.? Still, in light of recent numbers, it might be best to take caution and keep your distance.

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