There are more raccoons in New Brunswick cities than in its forests, according to the preliminary results of the first study of their population in the province.
The field study, launched in August, was completed recently. “It’s kind of what we expected,” says Mike Allan, the provincial rabies control coordinator. “This is in line with the literature across the country.”
According to researchers, the food sources are bigger in town. Household waste, in particular, is very attractive to raccoons. “Raccoons have really adapted very well to these scenarios,” he says.
He also mentions the high presence of these animals in urban parks, where they do not have to search far to find food and water.
The data collected by the cameras inside the cages is analyzed by researchers at the University of New Brunswick. To date, the data are consistent with the expectations of provincial experts.
“The assumptions we made before the study took place are largely confirmed,” says Mike Allan.
The final results of the study will be used to better target the provincial wildlife rabies vaccination program. With this program, vaccines are administered to animals by means of baits that airplanes drop into spaces where the virus may be thought to arise.
Mike Allan said that in the past three years, rabies cases have declined. “We had 23 in 2015, one in 2016 and four in 2017.”
The final report is expected next year.