It’s taking place near Lock 34.
Raccoon (Stock Photo)
Knoxville, Md (KM) Visitors to the C&O Canal National Historical Park have reported seeing raccoons acting unusual near Lock 34, which is at mile 61.5 in Maryland across the Potomac River from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. “We heard a couple different visitors report either aggressive raccoons or lethargic raccoons. And both of these behaviors in wildlife could be a symptom or rabies, ” says Christiana Hanson, a spokeswoman for the park.
She says other signs of rabies in wild animals include excessive drooling, biting at imaginary or real objects, or showing no fear of humans. “No one has been bitten,” Hanson says.
Raccoons in particular are nocturnal animals who usually come out at night, and it’s not common to see them out during the daytime. “They come out in the daytime if they are willing to get close to people,” she says. “Most wildlife is not comfortable being around human beings, even in very developed areas like we have.”
Human can contract rabies from infected animals through the animal’s saliva through a bite wound or a scratch. “If you do come in contact with an animal that you suspect is potentially affected by rabies, we encourage you to go see your doctor as quickly as possible to get treatment. Rabies is treatable, but you want to get treatment very, very quickly.”
If you visit the C&O Canal National Historical Park, or any national park, you’re strongly encouraged to watch animals from a safe distance. “Raccoons, skunks, deer, they all have ways of defending themselves. So just leave wildlife along. Enjoy from a distance. Never approach. You never know what’s going to happen,” says Hanson.
She also says if you bring your pets to a national park where they’re allowed, make sure they have had their rabies vaccinations, and are kept on a leash. And don’t take what you feel is a rabid animal to a veterinarian as you will put yourself and others in danger.
Visitors who notice a wild animal acting unusually in the parks can call the National Park Service, 24-hour, Emergency Dispatch Center at 877-677-6677.
By Kevin McManus