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Press Release

Natural Resources rabies programme
scam uncovered by wildlife rehabilitators.

Deadly for wildlife!
Abusive of taxpayers dollars!
Puts human and wildlife health at risk!

Monday, February 14, 2005:  For the last 4 years the Ministry of Natural Resources has persecuted wildlife rehabilitation organizations in Ontario allegedly to “…protect human health from the deadly disease of rabies” and the health of wildlife populations.

It makes no sense. Why would the Ministry attack a group of volunteers who rehabilitate orphaned and injured wildlife from their own funds and public donations?  Why would the Ministry unfairly target rehabilitators who have the animals in their care immunized, seen by veterinarians, and released only at the optimal time?  Why would the Ministry go after a group of dedicated people who will take in orphaned and injured wildlife from members of the public who find these animals, therefore assisting in the protection of human health?

Why, with the professed concern about human and wildlife health, does the Ministry only target wildlife rehabilitation and not the commercial wildlife removal companies who annually trap and relocate tens of thousands of adult animals without regard for the state of their health?

The Ministry’s bloated rabies programme: The Ontario Wildlife Coalition asserts that with limited tax dollars and a province facing serious programme cuts, the Ministry is doing everything in its power to protect its bloated and unwarranted rabies budget.

What are the costs of rabies research in Ontario?:

  • It is conservatively estimated that over $35 million dollars has been spent on rabies research, testing and control in Ontario in just the last four years alone. This incredible amount of money has been spent because a small but determined group of Canadian and United States scientists have propelled rabies into a thriving “industry”, in spite of the fact that rabies represents one of the lowest public health risks in North America
     
  • The rabies “industry” is made up of government scientists and academics, plus vaccine and bait manufacturers who have grown dependent on millions of dollars of public funds each year. But to keep this funding flowing, the Ministry must convince the public that rabies is a major health threat

What are the health risks from rabies?

Rabies is the lowest health risk of any disease in North America as demonstrated below:

  • Rabies is not considered to be a risk in North America (Map available upon request or on the Animal Alliance web site at www.animalalliance.ca). The lack of risk is attributed to pet vaccinations, public education and adequate post-exposure treatment being available, in the very rare case where a person is bitten by a raccoon or skunk.
     
  • The lack of risk is demonstrated by the fact that only one person has died of raccoon rabies since the disease was discovered over fifty years ago. This is in spite of the fact that there have been thousands of positive-tested animals in densely human populated areas in the U.S. over many years.
     
  • To put the virtually non-existent rabies risk in perspective, consider that 63 people die from lightning strikes and 40 or more die from hornet and wasp stings annually in the U.S.

Why does the Ministry’s persecution of wildlife rehabilitation have to do with rabies research spending?

  • Everything. After all, it is hard to depict baby raccoons, bats, skunks, squirrels and foxes being cared for within wildlife rehabilitation programs, without the animals ever having presented a risk, as a deadly threat to human health.
     
  • It becomes impossible for the Ministry to perpetuate the irrational political fear-mongering about the threat of rabies so desperately needed to shore up its multi-million dollar rabies budget when faced with rehabilitators who educate politicians and members of the public to appreciate and respect wildlife, not fear it.

No one is suggesting doing nothing about rabies. On the contrary, the promotion of pet vaccinations, public education and wildlife rehabilitation programs for people seeking help for wildlife are the progressive and cost-effective measures needed, not irrational fear-mongering, the denial of help for wildlife and the unchecked spending to support the ambitions of career scientists.

For further information please call Liz White, Animal Alliance 416-462-9541(p) or

416-809-4371(cell), Donna DuBrueil, 613-282-3755(cell) Paul Harris 519-232-1110(h) or 519-495-0160(cell) and Barry MacKay 905-472-9731(p) or visit the Animal Alliance web site at www.animalalliance.ca or Wildlife Ontario at www.wildlifeontario.ca.

 

 
 
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