Following up on Fayette’s 2 rabid foxes

Red fox and young. Photo/Shutterstock.
Red fox and young. Photo/Shutterstock.
Here’s what happens when you call officials about sighting wild animals — 
It has been a month or more since two Fayette County residents were bitten by rabid foxes. Fayette County Animal Control Director Jerry Collins said animal control officers continue to follow procedure, responding to calls about foxes or other wildlife that exhibit unusual behavior.
Though there have been no reported incidents of rabid wildlife since late May and early June, Collins said that procedurally, and whether fox or raccoon or other wildlife, animal control officers respond when a resident calls about an animal that is exhibiting strange or uncharacteristic behavior, such as staggering or moving toward people, and is not leaving the area.
If warranted for the call, animal control will also secure the assistance of the local law enforcement jurisdiction, Collins added.
Such were the recent cases when the two residents were bitten by foxes. Collins said one of the incidents occurred in a subdivision off Redwine Road, with the other occurring at the Shiloh Mobile Home Park adjacent to Peachtree City but in the unincorporated area. In both cases, animal control officers were joined by Fayette deputies to capture the animals. The carcasses of both animals were tested, and both had rabies.
Collins noted that seeing an animal in the area does not always equate to that animal being rabid. It is when the animal is exhibiting strange behavior that triggers a response from officers. He added that the animal has to stay in the area to make it possible for officers to assess the situation on-site.
It was on June 20 that animal control received a call about an animal exhibiting strange behavior. An off-duty animal control officer responded to the call just before 6 p.m. The animal had left the area and could not be located, Collins said.
Fayette County and its municipalities are home to an abundance of wildlife. Animals, including those moving through an area, can sometimes become a nuisance. Though some animals are more nocturnal in their habits, their increasing numbers, along with the close proximity to increasing numbers of humans, can only serve to increase the presence of wildlife.
People intentionally feeding wildlife only exacerbates the critters’ presence by lessening their innate fear of humans. Such was the case last summer in Peachtree City where a significant number of people reported deer attacking their dogs. Meantime, some residents also reported that some in their subdivisions were feeding the deer by placing corn in their yards, thereby attracting even larger numbers into neighborhoods.
From the perspective of animals exhibiting strange behavior, Collins said animal control officers responding to calls meeting the criteria of displaying unusual behavior and not leaving the area, do so to protect residents from dangerous animals.
Noting the procedure followed by deputies, Sheriff Barry Babb said a deputy will respond when an animal is reported to be exhibiting strange behavior. Arriving at the scene, the deputy will investigate to determine if the call can be verified and what action is needed.