Immunized from the skies: Feds dropping rabies-vaccine-laced bait for raccoons over boro

Aid from above: Federal biologists are laying rabies-vaccine-laced bait packets across Brooklyn this week in an effort to immunize raccoons, such as this critter caught in the backyard of a Sheepshead Bay daycare last year.
File photo by Paul Martinka

It’s raining meds!

The Feds are dropping packets of a pink liquid bait laced with the rabies vaccine that smells like fish and looks like ketchup from helicopters above the borough this week as part of an ongoing effort to eradicate the deadly virus in raccoons.

“The hope is to eliminate the raccoon variant of rabies,” said United States Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Tanya Espinosa.

Biologists from the federal agency and Cornell University through Aug. 31 will release the bait packets from choppers flying over Floyd Bennett Field near Marine Park — where residents witnessed a spike in masked bandits this spring — in addition to placing more by hand throughout parks and other wooded areas across Kings County.

Locals who come across anything on the ground that resembles a ketchup packet should keep their hands off it, because the vaccine can cause rashes, according to Espinosa, who said humans shouldn’t let their dogs ingest the bait either, as swallowing it can cause Fido to vomit.

The vaccine will immunize raccoons for roughly a year, according to Espinosa, after which the Feds will return to lay more innoculation-infused bait.

In 2017, city officials recovered 12 raccoons that tested positive for rabies, none of which they found in Brooklyn, where the last confirmed case was discovered in a bat back in April 2015, according to data.

Neither Espinosa nor a rep for the city’s Department of Health immediately returned a request for comment on whether the vaccine will affect squirrels, after a potentially rabid, bushy-tailed critter bit five people near an entrance to Prospect Park last summer.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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