MARION — Police Chief Richard Nighelli, Animal Control Officer Susan Connor and the Marion Board of Health wish to share with residents safety tips and guidelines regarding wildlife following an uptick in reports of raccoon sightings in recent weeks.
Marion Police and Animal Control have received 16 calls regarding raccoons since April 5. The raccoons have not been reported to be overtly aggressive, however, several of the raccoons were determined to have posed a public safety risk and were humanely euthanized by responding officers.
There have been two raccoon-related exposures to dogs and one exposure to a person, however the exposures did not result in serious injuries and the three euthanized raccoons involved in the exposures subsequently tested negative for rabies. Humans or pets can be exposed to diseases carried by raccoons if they come into contact with bodily secretions such as raccoon waste, or through a bite or scratch.
“It is important to never approach, feed or handle wild animals, and ensure children know to do the same,” ACO Connor said. “Always call the police department if you notice an animal behaving aggressively or unusually, or if a person or pet has an interaction with a wild animal so that we can assess the situation and determine what action needs to be taken.”
Residents are urged to immediately contact the Marion Police Department at 508-748-1212 for:
- Any animal that behaves oddly or aggressively
- Human or pet interactions with wild mammals
- A scratch, bite or other exposure from a wild animal
Residents who have any non-emergency animal-related questions are encouraged to contact ACO Connor.
Safety Tips and Guidance
Marion Animal Control and the Board of Health wish to provide residents with the following tips and guidelines to protect themselves, their pets and their home:
- Never feed or handle wild animals. If you should find a young or injured animal leave it alone and contact the Animal Control Officer via the Marion Police Department for guidance and assistance. Teach children to never approach animals they don’t know – even if they appear friendly.
- Make sure your pet’s vaccinations are up to date, including pets that are not outside. It is always a good idea to leash your pet when walking outdoors and to not leave pets unattended or restrained outdoors.
- Keep food sources inaccessible to wildlife. This includes trash, pet food, compost and discarded bird seed from feeders.
- Remove brush and secure areas under sheds and porches. Make sure trees and vines do not give access to your roof. Secure the top of your chimney using a safe and appropriate method. This will reduce the areas that an animal may make a den or nest.
- Wildlife is active at all times of the day and night and daytime activity is not an automatic indicator of disease for any Massachusetts mammal. During the spring and summer wildlife is often busy raising young and preparing for winter and are more likely to be active.
- Keep the wild in wildlife by discouraging contact with humans by making loud noises. Furthermore, it is illegal to trap and move wildlife to another location. They must be released in the same location or be euthanized.
“Wild animals can carry a number of diseases that can be transmitted to humans and pets,” said Dr. Edward Hoffer, Board of Health Chair. “It is always a good idea to wash your hands when returning from outside to prevent exposure to any illness that may be carried by wildlife. If you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal, be sure to wash the wound well and call your health care provider and animal control.”
To learn more about wildlife and preventing problems with wildlife, visit the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife website.
To learn more about protecting yourself from diseases carried by wild animals, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.