Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre
For immediate release:
OMNR Slaughter of thousands of raccoons is costly, ineffective, inhumane way to control rabies: Report
(Toronto, Ottawa, June 16, 2003) – Vaccinating raccoons, as opposed to killing them, would be cheaper, kinder and a more effective way to curb rabies, said a report released today by a province-wide network of animal welfare organizations.
The joint report released by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Animal Alliance of Canada (AAC), Animal Protection Institute (API) and the Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre (OCWC) calls on the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR) to end the slaughter of thousands of healthy raccoons.
The groups recommend that Ontario follow the lead of more progressive jurisdictions, like Ohio state, which has proven more effective in reducing the spread of raccoon rabies, while saving taxpayer dollars.
“Using an oral rabies vaccine, delivered through aerial drops and ground baiting, is far more effective and less costly than Ontario’s blanket killing of raccoons,” says IFAW spokesperson Kim Elmslie. “If the government is serious about cutting costs, then its unnecessary slaughter of healthy animals is a good place to start.”
OMNR has killed nearly 9,000 raccoons and skunks in the past three years in Eastern Ontario as part of its experimental “depopulation” program. The IFAW, AAC, API and OCWC are concerned that the government will attempt to broaden its slaughter zone west from the Kingston area and along the 401 corridor to include major metropolitan centres like Oshawa and even Toronto.
“Ontario stands alone in using depopulation as a means of controlling raccoon rabies in North America,” says Liz White, Director of Animal Alliance. “When you kill thousands of healthy animals, you eliminate a natural buffer against disease, which can contribute to the spread of disease. Ohio uses baiting, and not depopulation, and its program is more successful than Ontario in controlling rabies.”
Trapping and euthanizing animals is expensive in Ontario, costing $400-$500 per square kilometre, compared to about $200 per square kilometre in Ohio. Ontario has spent nearly 10 years and millions of dollars to control raccoon rabies, yet continues to report cases in the double digits in eastern Ontario.
The network is also recommending that the Ministry rescind a rule introduced last year that prohibits licensed wildlife rehabilitators from caring for rabies vector species, which includes raccoons, skunks and foxes.
“Rehabilitators are an important ally in the fight against wildlife disease,” says OCWC President Donna DuBreuil. “They are experienced in dealing with wildlife and in recognizing diseases. They also limit the public’s contact with wildlife. The Ministry’s unwillingness to work with wildlife rehabilitators not only puts the public at risk, but it prevents municipalities from implementing effective, cost-efficient and humane wildlife response programs.”
The report, including recommendations and photos, can be found at: www.wildlifeontario.ca.
The International Fund for Animal Welfare’s mission is to improve the welfare of wild and domestic animals throughout the world by reducing commercial exploitation of animals, protecting wildlife habitats, and assisting animals in distress
Animal Alliance of Canada is committed to animal protection through electoral politics, legislative advocacy and education
Animal Protection Institute advocates for all animals
The Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre is committed to the responsible and humane rehabilitation of wildlife and to progressive education programs that reduce human/wildlife conflicts.
For more information:
International Fund for Animal Welfare
Animal Alliance of Canada
(416) 462-9541 (#23)
Barry Kent MacKay
Animal Protection Institute
Ottawa-Carleton Wildlife Centre