City-dwelling raccoons are certainly a nuisance to human residents, but they can also be dangerous, and even life-threatening if they carry rabies.
In order to combat this problem, the New York Department of Health will be distributing vaccinations to protect the raccoons from contracting the disease, which is a danger to all mammals.
The distribution is to be carried out in a singularly un-orthodox way; by dropping an edible form of the vaccine into the creature’s habitats in certain parts of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island from helicopters. None of the bait will be dropped into residential neighborhoods.
The helicopters will be manned by wildlife biologists from Cornell University and the United States Department of Agriculture, making sure the vaccines fall only in or near forests, bushes and sewers. Bait will not be deposited on roads or parking lots.
Except for the possibility of developing a rash, the bait is not harmful to humans. The health department advises anyone who happens to touch the bait should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water, talk to a doctor, and call poison control at 800-222-1222.
The vaccine is also not harmful to pets. They cannot contract rabies from contact with the vaccine, although it could cause vomiting if too much is eaten. For more information contact the NYC Department Health and Mental Hygiene.