Saturday, November 18, 2017


Chemung County Health Department Warns Against Handling Wild Animals


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


Jonathan Keough of the Chemung County Health Department’s Environmental Health Services said, “All too often, 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.”


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.


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.  For a list of licensed nuisance wildlife operators in Chemung County, visit our website at .  For residents with urgent emergency situations regarding wildlife with which you or your pet did actually have contact, the after-hours number is 737-2044.


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