Concerned by dead animals

There has been a dead raccoon lying in an orchard near the the northern end of Kelowna for several weeks.

What is alarming is no scavengers cleaning it up. I believe it has some kind of disease, such as rabies, distemper or perhaps even anthrax and that is why not even the turkey buzzards are dining on it. Coyotes won’t eat a dead raccoon because they are too closely related and they would get whatever the raccoon died of.

As for other scavengers, they must be able to smell something foul besides the rotting carcass. To make matters worse, there was another dead raccoon in a nearby field. I wonder if there is some disease spreading amongst those critters that could harm our pets and humans?

I contacted both the Regional District of Central Okanagan and the provincial conservation office and both said dead animals are the property owner’s responsibility, not theirs. The conservation officer I spoke with seemed totally uninterested in the idea it might have a horrific disease that could spread by leaching into the ground and that the land owner could contract something by handling it.

He said just to pick it up with a garbage bag covering it and then slide it into aanother bag and dispose of it.

Are we supposed to put dead animals in a dumpster?

In Alberta, they have a dead animal truck will come for a small fee and look after that sort of thing, but apparently not here.

I am not a biologist or veterinarian but I think if ravens, eagles and other carrion-eating birds turn their nose up at it then there is a problem, as they have no qualms about dining at garbage dumps or snacking on road kill.

However, I will inform the orchardist because unless you continue driving up the road you will not see it lying there. Come summer, in 40 C heat, the smell will be enough to gag a maggot.

Are there any biologists or infectious disease experts who could clarify this mystery for me? Is it a zoonotic disease (something spread from animals to people) such as the bubonic plague?

Maybe I am a doomsayer, but what if it is?

Doreen Zyderveld-Hagel, Kelowna

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