That’s One Way to Deal with the Problem: Tennessee Drops Vaccines from the Sky for Raccoons

Tennessee raccoons are in for a treat, and it could save their lives and the lives of pets they meet along the way.

The Tennessee Department of Health and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services are airlifting rabies vaccine to critters who live in the woods, according to WATN-TV.

Rural areas along Tennessee’s borders with Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia are being targeted.

“Controlling raccoon rabies keeps people, pets and livestock safe,” said Dr. John Dunn, Tennessee’s state epidemiologist, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

“We’re pleased to partner with USDA Wildlife Services in this program to reduce rabies in wildlife and protect the community,” he said.

The USDA campaign began in August and has targeted states as far north as Maine, according to the USDA’s website.

About 3.75 million packets will be dropped across nine states, according to the Associated Press.

To tempt raccoons, the vaccine comes in fish meal cubes that surround the vaccine.

The vaccine effort this year will also include about 3.5 million doses of the experimental vaccine Onrab, which comes in packs with marshmallow-flavored coating.

“When an animal finds a bait and bites into it, the sachet ruptures, allowing the animal to swallow the vaccine. Animals that swallow an adequate dose of the vaccine, develop immunity to rabies. As the number of vaccinated animals in the population increases, they act as a buffer to stop the spread of the disease to other wildlife, domestic animals and people,” the USDA explained on its website.

The Tennessee helicopter vaccine drop will continue through Oct. 15, according to WANT.

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When aircraft distribute the oral rabies vaccines, a person controls the machine that makes the drops to limit the chance of dropping bait on roads and structures or in lakes, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

The department said the vaccine is harmless to people but suggests that bait packets be kept away from pets who could suffer an upset stomach if several are eaten.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.