Monday, October 23, 2017


“Chemung County Health Department Warns Against Handling Wild Animals”

ELMIRA - The Chemung County Health Department today issued a warning to area residents that serious illness could result from physical contact with wildlife, including orphaned baby animals.

Peter Buzzetti of the Chemung County Health Department’s Environmental Health Services said, “Every Spring, baby animals including skunks, woodchucks, and raccoons need to be euthanized so that they can be tested for rabies because untrained and/or unlicensed people handled them. Raccoons have the highest rate of rabies in New York State and can transmit the disease to humans.  Even though most people have the best of intentions in trying to assist, it usually ends up being a death sentence for the handled animal.”

“Often, young animals that appear to be orphaned are merely exploring with their mothers nearby, but out of sight. People coming upon any of these animals might naturally assume that the animals are abandoned and need to be helped.  It may be difficult, but the best thing to do in almost all cases is to leave baby wildlife alone! Unfortunately, young animals often end up being destroyed because they have been handled by people trying to ‘rescue’ them,” added Buzzetti. 

Residents are urged not to attempt to rescue, capture, or handle wildlife.  Furthermore, it is against the law for anyone to possess or care for wildlife unless that person is licensed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

Please contact Environmental Health Services of the Chemung County Health Department at 737-2019 during regular business hours or visit  for more information. 


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