Public Health cautions against approaching wild animals

Niagara Region Public Health has seen an increase in humans interacting with raccoons and other wild animals. So far, in 2017, there have been 40 raccoon bites, compared to 53 for all of 2016. Residents should not approach any wild animal, including those that appear to be in distress, as they may put themselves at risk for injury or contracting an infection like rabies.

In Hamilton and its bordering areas, a total of 327 animals with raccoon strain rabies (mostly raccoons and skunks) have been confirmed since December, 2015.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, along with SPCAs and Humane Societies, continue to conduct increased surveillance activities for animals with rabies.

Public Health advises residents to take the following measures to protect themselves from rabies:

  • Ensure pet dogs and cats have current rabies vaccinations (typically needed annually by law)
  • Prevent pet dogs and cats from roaming off-leash or unsupervised
  • Avoid all contact with wild animals and prevent contact between pets and wildlife
  • Report wild animals exhibiting abnormal behaviour (particularly raccoons) to local animal control services:
    • Welland SPCA: 905-735-1552
    • Lincoln County Humane Society: 905-682-0767
    • Niagara Falls Humane Society: 905-356-4404
    • Fort Erie Humane Society: 905-871-2461

An animal with rabies may not display symptoms, and so all bites or scratches, however mild, from an animal must be assessed to ensure the person bitten/scratched is not at risk. Immediately report all animal bites and scratches of humans to Niagara Region Public Health at 905-688-8248, ext. 7268 or toll free 1-888-505-6074. Niagara Region Public Health is available to take calls about animal bites 24/7.

For more information about rabies, call Niagara Region Public Health at 905-688-8248, ext. 7268 or toll free 1-888-505-6074.​


Meredith Maxwell
Niagara Region Public Health
905-688-8248 ext. 7268

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