Hunt for Rabid Animals in Missoula Focuses on Cats
Ever since a rabid skunk bit a runner near Harper’s Bridge in early September, the search for more skunks has been a priority for Missoula Animal Control, but Supervisor Jeff Darrah says that most of their time has been devoted to trapping a family of feral cats.
"One of the cats had been killed by the skunk that tested positive for rabies," Darrah said. "We have just about trapped them all: we've trapped around 30 cats from a feral colony. Also, in this process, we are trying to pick up another skunk or two in the immediate area to test them as well."
Darrah says that just one skunk has been trapped so far, but it was out in Frenchtown. He says that skunks are busy eating anything they can get their hands on in the valley and advises pet owners to be cautious.
"It is important that animals be vaccinated all of the time, not just when there is a scare," Darrah said. "If you are feeding your pets outside, I would stop doing that, or at least monitor it and be careful not to leave the food outside all night long, because these skunks and raccoons and bears, or whatever are going to be lured to that food and then you're going to have trouble."
The lab is still processing the rabies virus found in the first skunk to see if it is bat rabies that found its way into the skunk, or if it is a much more rare skunk variety, which hasn't been found in Missoula for about 20 years.