ALBANY, Ga. — If a rabid fox attacks — agencies mobilize. If healthy foxes roam the neighborhood you are on your own.
This irks one Albany resident. She doesn’t want to wait for a fox to become rabid, attack someone or a pet and pass the disease on before someone does something.
“The neighborhood I live in has a problem with a pair of foxes that have moved in,” said Deborah Skaggs. “Several neighbors as well as myself have had direct contact with the foxes. Fortunately no one has been attacked as of yet.”
Recent rabid fox attacks in Albany and Dougherty County date to at least June 2011. At that time a fox bit a woman on a Darton College walking trail. It then attacked a woman and a child at a nearby apartment complex.
The fox was never found and is presumed to have run off to die. The victims underwent rabies treatments.
On March 20, a rabid fox attacked a woman and her dog in Dougherty County’s Willow Nook Mobile Home Park. A Dougherty County Police Department officer shot the fox. The woman is undergoing rabies treatment. Her dog did not have a rabies vaccination so it must be euthanized.
Skaggs has a page and a half of typed notes detailing her contact with the foxes and various government agencies. She sums up the agency responses by saying, “I still get the response that it is not their problem.”
Start with Albany Animal Control. The agents are not trained to deal with wild animals, said Albany Assistant City Manager Wes Smith. They are meant for “pet control,” not “wild animal control,” he added.
Albany’s Animal Control agents are also extremely busy with the number of calls they have for dogs and feral cats, Smith added.
Phyllis Banks, Animal Control spokeswoman said that the Department of Natural Resources is the agency to handle wild animals. That agency’s spokeswoman also explained its staff could not respond to calls and trap healthy wildlife.
“We have no staff to respond to a call about a fox a raccoon or other animals that people are always encountering in Southwest Georgia,” said Melissa Cummings, Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman.
Cummings said that there are private companies that do handle wild animal removal. Skaggs contacted one and found that it could cost from $800 to $1,500 to hire.
The Southwest Georgia District Public Health office also remains powerless about healthy wildlife situations. Its job in animal calls, said Carolyn Maschke, spokeswoman, is to investigate animal contact that poses a health risk.
Unless the wild animals pose a health risk government agencies won’t become involved, all the people spoken to said. However there are ways to prevent problems with nuisance animals such as foxes and raccoons.
“You can make a huge difference on whether or not that animal truly becomes a nuisance,” said Alex Coley assistant chief with Georgia Game Management. “With just some simple preventative tactics, you can find a way to still enjoy nature in your backyard, without presenting an all-access pass to your yard and your home.”
For additional help, Wildlife Resources Division has provided a website page georgiawildlife.com/nuisancewildlife to help you with nuisance issues. This page contains information about:
Options for handling nuisance wildlife, including a list of professional nuisance trappers.
Common Nuisance Wildlife in Georgia/Fact Sheets that include tips about dealing with the various species.
Information on wildlife rehabilitation experts, managing your land for wildlife, guides on rabies and much more.