15 Sep 2014
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Keep Away from Dead Wildlife

Dead and dying bats appeared on the Milford High School track last week. Wildlife officials say don't touch dead wildlife, but especially bats, raccoons or skunks, known to carry rabies.

Keep Away from Dead Wildlife

What caused several bats to die suddenly, and whose job is it to dispose of something like that?

Two bats were discovered on the last week by a Patch reader, who asked whether it was the police or the animal control officer who should be contacted. One bat was dead, the other one dying.

Who to call? It depends.

If wildlife is on someone's private property, the homeowner needs to handle it, including by calling a nuisance wildlife company.

can intervene on a private property if an animal is rabid, and people have been affected, but with dead wildlife in the outdoors, the best solution is to leave it alone, said Rochelle Thomson, the animal control officer.

With the high school track incident, Thomson responded to the call once she was on duty, but by that time, the bats were gone, she said.

No one is sure what happened to them. But with bats, people need to take care.

Massachusetts has two species of bats, the little brown bat and the big brown bat. They are similar in appearance, according to the information provided by the Bat Guys, a wildlife removal service.

Both species are known to carry rabies, along with raccoons and skunks, and if people come across a sick or dead bat, don't touch it, said Tom Keppeler, a spokesman for Tufts Wildlife Clinic.

"Well-meaning people have tried to help a sick bat, but end up being infected with rabies," Keppeler said.

As to what causes bats to die, the answer can only be found through examination after death. In the case of rabies, the determination is made after a bat is dead and the brain examined, Keppeler said.

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