Wildlife officers: Beware of rabid foxes in or near Iqaluit

Iqaluit residents are asked to either vaccinate their dogs for rabies, or to keep their dogs in places where foxes can’t contact them.



IQALUIT — With darkness come the foxes, unconcerned by the town, by cars, even people.

“I’ve been here for eight and a half years. This is the first time I’ve seen that many,” said Kevin Robertson, a wildlife officer in Iqaluit.

For the last week, Robertson and two other wildlife officers have been patrolling Iqaluit every morning and sunset looking for what some people believe are rabid foxes.

The patrols started when two reports came into the wildlife office that foxes had been spotted close to or within Iqaluit. One black fox was even spotted at the Snack, said Robertson.

Robertson said that in the two reported cases the foxes were said to be frothing at the mouth.

Since then Robertson and the other officers have spotted numerous foxes near the town and have killed five already. However none of them were exhibiting any overt signs of rabies. Robertson said some of them will be sent out for testing all the same

This odd behaviour in animals that normally do not venture near humans has lead some people to believe the foxes’ visits might be due to rabies.

“They should be out on the land where the caribou are,” Robertson said.

Dog owners should have their animals vaccinated for rabies, and if that isn’t possible they should keep their animals inside or in an enclosure a fox can’t get into, he said.

The fox problem even appeared at an Iqaluit Town Council committee meeting.

The mayor of Iqaluit, Jimmy Kilabuk, said he and his wife discovered a dead fox outside their home, however before they could do anything about it, the fox carcass disappeared. Kilabuk speculated that perhaps children had taken the body.

The early stage of the disease is only communicable between animals if they exchange blood in a fight or during sex, said Robertson. Later, when the animals begin frothing at the mouth, the disease is much more communicable.

People who come into contact with an animal they suspect is rabid should go straight to the hospital, Robertson said. They should also report any suspicious animal carcasses to the wildlife office, he said.

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