Trapping not necessary for rabies control, says N.Y. wildlife official
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1993:
NEW YORK, N.Y.––New York State Department of Environmental
Conservation Bureau of Wildlife official Gordon Batcheller rattled readers of Fur Age
Weekly on May 17. “Although the harvest of raccoons is one way of reducing the risks of
contact,” Batcheller wrote in a guest article, “the relationships between hunting or trapping
and population size are too complex to make a simplistic statement like: hunting and trap-
ping is a necessarymeans of control.”
Batcheller went on to describe progress in developing means of vaccinating rac-
coons to halt the mid-Atlantic raccoon rabies pandemic, now in its 14th year. His remarks
were a sharp departure from the traditional position of state wildlife agencies, whose
income is derived in part from the sale of trapping licenses, and were a direct rebuttal to
recent claims by several Fur Age Weekly columnists.
The Centers for Disease Control and National Academy of Sciences agreed as far
back as 1973 that trapping is ineffective in slowing the spread of rabies––because it opens
habitat, encouraging both diseased and healthy animals to migrate and reproduce in greater
numbers. Trappers and the fur trade have defended their activity, however, by pretending
that it has a role in rabies prevention, and have been undaunted by the evidence that trap-
ping up to half a million raccoons per year in the mid-Atlantic states during the 1980s only
accelerated the spread of the raccoon rabies pandemic northward.
The pandemic began when trappers and raccoon hunters relocated rabid raccoons
from Florida to West Virginia in 1977.