ONRAB vaccine program focus on skunks


Christopher Croson, USDA’s state director of Wildlife Services, gave a report to the county commissioners at the Tuesday night meeting of the Greenbrier County Commission stating that since the ONRAB rabies vaccine bait drop program started in 2011, the vaccine has produced the highest rate of effectiveness in the raccoon population ever recorded in the U.S. However, he said, skunks found with rabies are still a problem. Greenbrier County has a high population of skunks and are now the focus of the program, Croson said. As a result, a new three-year study using the same procedures of trapping and baiting will ensue again this year but will include dropping the baits across a wider swath of the county expanding from a 200 meter width to 750 meters.

As before, the vaccine is contained in blister packs that measure approximately 2 inches by 1 inch. Year to date, Croson said, there has only been one skunk rabies case reported.

Croson also said that calls have subsided owing to the success of the program. He asked that the commissioners relieve the agency of manning the 24/7 response line and refer the calls that pertain to nuisance calls to the county’s animal control officer.

Croson praised the unprecedented cooperation this research has garnered from the federal, state and county levels all the way down to property owners who have allowed USDA officials access to their property to gather information.

“It’s been a great partnership,” Croson said, adding he has never seen a program run this smoothly.

In other business:

• Judith Walz, president of the Humane Society board of directors, presented a new contract with the county for the 2014-15 fiscal year for $200,000 which the commission approved 2-1 with Commissioner Mike McClung casting the dissenting vote. He cited his objections were for the costliness of the contract.

• A new deputy hire was approved. Sheriff Jan Cahill submitted Alexander Workman, currently with the Lewisburg Police Department, as a new employee with the Sheriff’s Department.

• Al Whitaker, director of the 9-1-1 Center, received approval from the commission to move Katie White from a part-time to a full-time position.

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