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Erie County Department of Health to airdrop rabies vaccines for local wildlife population

Posted at 5:44 PM, Aug 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-15 17:44:08-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — If you see helicopters and fixed-wing planes flying above parks, rural and wooded areas in Erie County the end of this month, don't be alarmed.

It's just the Health Department doing what it can to protect wildlife from rabies by airdropping rabies vaccines.

"They have to do that. There's no way you could possibly ground bait all those wooded areas.It's a vast area in Erie County," said Peter Tripi, Senior Pulib Health Sanitarian with the county's Division of Environmental Health.

The bait will give rabies vaccines to raccoons, foxes, skunks and bats in their natural habitat. The program will run from August 20 through August 29 all across Erie County.

Helicopters will be taking off next week from Prior Aviation to airdrop more than 410,000 rabies vaccines.

Tripi saidthese vaccine baits can't be airdropped in populated urban areas. There is another plan for that.

"Our staff in Rabies Disease Vector Control will be baiting for 5,000 approximately by hand," he said.

Tripi said to keep an eye on your children's outdoor activities as well as your pets if you have any.

If the wind blows the baits onto or near your property, you can pick them up - using gloves - and throw them back into the wooded area.

The vaccine baits are not harmful to pets or humans provided they are not ingested.

The County Health Department said not to disturb the baits, most are eaten within a few days and almost all will be gone within a week.

Niagara County is also doing a similar airdrop program next week.