Distribution of oral rabies vaccination baits, an effort to reduce and manage raccoon rabies, will begin April 28 and continue through May 28.
“This coming Monday we’ll begin hand-baiting,” said Brian Bjorklund, a Rabies Program coordinator for the US Department of Agriculture Wildflife Services.
Approximately 30,000 fishmeal cube baits and coated sachets will be distributed from Sandwich and Mashpee through Route 124 in Brewster and Harwich. About half will be distributed through bait stations in selected areas, while the other half will be hand-distributed by town officials and volunteers on May 2 in Brewster, Dennis and Yarmouth; May 5 and/or May 6 in Sandwich; and May 6 in Barnstable.
Bait stations are scheduled to be filled with baits April 28 to May 2 and monitored for three weeks. Remaining baits from those stations will be hand-distributed in western Mashpee on May 27 and 28.
The bait zone has shifted out of the outer Cape in the past few years, Mr. Bjorklund said, due to decreased reports of raccoon rabies in previously treated areas. Last fall, the zone was shifted east again, out of Orleans, Chatham and the eastern two-thirds of Brewster and Harwich.
Those resources were used to bait portions of Sandwich and Mashpee, which had not been baited since 2004.
Humans and pets cannot get rabies from contact with the baits, but are asked to leave them undisturbed should they encounter them since each bait consumed by a domestic animal is a lost dose of vaccine for wild animals.
“We just ask that people obey the leash laws in town and keep their dogs on leashes,” Mr. Bjorklund said.
The vaccine contained in baits is identifiable by a strong fish smell — designed to be attractive to raccoons and unpleasant to people — and each bait is labeled with a warning and a phone number to call for information.
Residents who find intact baits are advised to place them in brushy areas where people and pets are unlikely to find them, while chewed baits should be picked up with a glove or paper towel and disposed of in the trash.