MA Wildlife Rehabilitator Warns Of Potential Surge In Sick Raccoons, Skunks

CHELMSFORD, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — Jane Newhouse takes care of animals including beavers, possums, porcupines, and raccoons at her house in Chelmsford, which doubles as Newhouse Wildlife Rescue. And in the past few weeks, Jane says she's received more calls than ever about skunks and raccoons.

Valentina the porcupette is being treated for a fungal infection at Newhouse Wildlife Rescue.Photo: Madison Rogers for WBZ NewsRadio

It's mating season for skunks and raccoons, and the nine-year rehabber says she's had to put down several sick animals due to concern about distemper and rabies.

"Right now, with them all breeding, they're all interacting," she told WBZ's Madison Rogers.

Jane is trying to get the message out that if people see an animal acting unwell, it needs to be reported.

Jane says a lot of people expect a rabid animal to be foaming out the mouth and highly aggressive, and while she does see those symptoms occasionally, "most of the time they just act drunk."

"If they seem unaware of their surroundings, they're having difficulty walking, they don't seem phased by you being around, if they're overly friendly [or] overly aggressive," Jane says it's a likely indicator of neurological problems that could be caused by rabies or distemper.

Recently, Jane says she was called in after town officials declined to deal with a raccoon acting sick. She didn't name the community at hand, but says after she retrieved the animal, it ended up testing positive for rabies.

Distemper can be fatal in cats and dogs, and rabies without treatment can be fatal in humans as well.

Jane Newhouse and possums she's caring for at Newhouse Wildlife Rescue.Photo: Madison Rogers for WBZ NewsRadio

Jane says she doesn't want to make people terrified of all raccoons and skunks, and you shouldn't assume every wild animal is sick or call in help over an animal behaving normally.

"Not every one of them has rabies; most of them don't, but it's not a disease to be messing around with either."

If you do see a raccoon, skunk, or other animal acting unwell, call Animal Control, police, or a wildlife rehabilitator.

Nibi the beaverPhoto: Madison Rogers for WBZ NewsRadio

"If people don't report them, it's spreading that virus," Jane said. "If not to people to people or their pets, to other wildlife."

WBZ NewsRadio’s Madison Rogers (@MadisonWBZ) reports:

Follow WBZ NewsRadio: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | iHeartmedia App

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content