Chattanooga, TN – Over the next several days, you may notice a helicopter flying in a pattern over Walker County.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is dropping oral rabies vaccination baits across our community and others, in an effort to protect people and pets — by preventing rabies in wildlife.
Operating out of the Chattanooga Airport, USDA teams are currently targeting urban and suburban areas in Walker, Catoosa, Hamilton and Bradley counties. They stock each helicopter with bait to toss into wooded areas while airborne. The baits are about the size of a ketchup packet and are coated with fishmeal.
USDA distributes more than 10 million baits across 17 states every year. This year, 1,270,000 baits will be dropped across Walker and surrounding counties.
Walker County sits right in the middle of the bait zone, which means after the USDA makes bait drops by helicopter to the northern end, (PIC) they will return in a couple of weeks to spread baits across the southern end using a fixed wing plane.
While not harmful for pets, officials say you should leave these baits alone unless found in areas where children play.
Because of efforts like this, there hasn’t been a positive animal rabies case in Walker County since 2014.