For years, raccoons have been suffering through a catastrophic pandemic introduced to them by domestic dogs. Canine distemper is a highly contagious, horrifically painful, and invariably fatal disease that infects large numbers of raccoons, skunks, foxes, and coyotes in Tennessee. As many as half of the calls we receive are related to cases of canine distemper.
Canine distemper is not contagious to humans or vaccinated dogs, but it has a serious effect on our native wildlife. In some parts of the world, entire species are hanging on the brink of extinction due to canine distemper outbreaks.
Unlike us, raccoons and other wild animals don’t have ways to prepare for pandemics, so they depend on our help. One way that you can help prevent canine distemper in wildlife is by never feeding wild mammals. Artificial feeding causes them to unnaturally congregate in small areas, where they can easily be infected by exposure to each other’s coughs, sneezes, and saliva. We have seen many people’s backyards turn into “super spreader events” as the raccoons they fed all fell sick one by one.
Please do your part to prevent pandemics in wildlife! Vaccinate your pets and avoid feeding wild mammals.