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South End has skunk problem

September 19, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN

The Humane Society of Washington County will stop capturing sick and injured wildlife in the City of Hagerstown effective Oct. 1, 2008.

Paul Miller, the humane society's executive director, wrote in a Sept. 9 e-mail to Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith that the humane society does not have adequate staff or funding to continue responding to wildlife calls.

Although Miller did not return two telephone messages seeking comment on Wednesday, the e-mail said the city should consider contracting with a private company or working with county officials to find a solution.

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Miller's e-mail was written a little more than a week before Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said during a Hagerstown City Council work session Tuesday that a skunk problem exists in the city's South End.

Nigh said a constituent told her skunks are wandering into neighborhoods, and one of the animals appeared to have rabies.

That skunk was captured recently by the humane society, she said. The animal was not tested for rabies, however, because it did not bite a human or another animal.

"I'm concerned the animal was not tested," Nigh said. "If it was in a colony, other (skunks) could be infected."

Rod MacRae, spokesman for the Washington County Health Department, said his agency relies on the humane society and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources to remove wildlife from residential areas.

He said the humane society is under contract with the county to remove wildlife, but according to Miller's e-mail, the humane society isn't required to get involved unless a person is bitten.

And DNR usually doesn't respond unless a large animal is sighted, MacRae said.

Regardless, Nigh said the responsibility to capture sick and injured wildlife shouldn't be thrust upon the residents of Hagerstown.

She said she plans to work on finding a solution before the humane society stops responding to wildlife calls next year.

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