Three more Arctic foxes have tested positive for rabies, heightening concerns about the fall hunting and trapping season after another fox and a reindeer tested positive for the disease since May, according to The Governor of Svalbard.
The six animals that tested positive were found in locations throughout of Svalbard, with the exception of the northernmost areas.
“We repeat that people should remain alert and notify the Governor if they observe fox or reindeer with atypical behavior, or dead fox or reindeer,” said Morten Wedege, head of environmental protection for the governor, in a press release issued Thursday.
Typical signs include aggression in foxes and paralysis in reindeer. The release urges people encountering such animals to submit photos or video recordings of the animals or carcasses to the governor’s office.
Officials are evaluating how the positive tests may affect the upcoming fox trapping season. A decision was made last month to allow reindeer hunting season to proceed, although extra safety precautions were urged, and the annual hunts by school and kindergarten students were cancelled.
“We strongly advise people to take precautionary measures,” the most recent press release states. “Do not feed foxes. Dogs must be kept on a leash and not be left unsupervised. Additionally, we refer to the guidelines issued by the hospital in Longyearbyen, stating that everyone who plan to hunt reindeer and are not vaccinated, should undergo the vaccination regime before handling game.”
A full vaccination is issued in three doses that typically take about four weeks. Hunters and or others who handle game and have previously been vaccinated (two years or more since basic vaccination), should contact their physician to check if they are still protected.
The three foxes that most recently tested positive were found in Ebeltofthamna in Krossfjorden, by Heleysundet between Barentsøya and Spitsbergen and at Vindodden.
Tests done on two foxes that were found in the Hornsund area are awaiting analysis.