WILDLIFE — A coyote has become the 10th animal in Josephine County to test positive for rabies over the past 13 months.
The coyote was found in the Cave Junction area, where seven foxes and one goat have all died from the disease. The other rabies victim was a fox near Merlin, The Mail Tribune reported.
The coyote has yet to be tested to determine whether it contracted the same strain of bat rabies found in the other dead animals.
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife officials say it’s likely that other animals have contracted rabies in the Cave Junction area.
“Maybe we hit the jackpot and it’s the only one,” said Colin Gillin, the department’s state wildlife veterinarian. “But normally, when you find it, it’s in others.”
Read on for more of the story moved by the Associated Press.
If it is the bat strain as expected, the coyote could have contracted it from eating an infected bat — the common theory biologists have for the dead foxes, Gillin said.
But more likely, the coyote could have contracted it from contact with a fox, skunk “or something we haven’t found yet,” Gillin said.
The animal was seen last week rolling and drooling by a woman who reported it to OFDW wildlife biologist Steve Niemela. He drove to Cave Junction and discovered the coyote alive and in brush near a cemetery. He killed it with a shotgun and sent the body off for testing.
The latest incident had Josephine County health officials warning pet and horse owners to consider vaccinations for their animals.
All dogs must be vaccinated for rabies in Oregon, but animals such as horses and cats are not required to be vaccinated.
Rabies symptoms in wildlife include lethargy, walking in circles, loss of muscular coordination, convulsions, irritability or aggressiveness, disorientation, excessive drooling, and showing no fear of humans.
ODFW officials say the agency will release a draft plan to track rabies in Josephine County and determine how widespread it has become.