I saw a news release, last week, that mentioned the US Department of Agriculture was getting ready to drop edible rabies vaccinations into Letcher and Harlan counties to prevent raccoons and other wildlife from getting this horrible disease and causing it to spread. Apparently aircraft will fly over wooded areas and drop the stuff and they have navigation devices that will prevent dropping it close to human habitation.

I’ve lost the newspaper clip, but according to the internet, this is a federal endeavor that has been going on for over two decades and is targeted to certain parts of the country that are especially prone to outbreaks of rabies. The vaccine “bait” is about the size of a fast food ketchup packet and is scented in such a way that it also attracts coyotes, foxes, skunks and other small animals. I’m told it smells fishy.

From what I’ve read, the stuff actually works and it wouldn’t hurt humans if they accidentally squirted some onto their French fries.

On the other hand, if it smells like dead fish, I can’t imagine anyone finding it very appetizing. House cats might, potentially, founder on the stuff but apparently they’d have to search far and wide because the distribution is very limited.

According to what little information I could find online, folks in central Kentucky need not worry about it because it’s only being distributed in a few counties bordering southwest Virginia.

Nobody seems to be concerned about a rabies outbreak in central Kentucky but I’d be willing to bet considerable $$ that Madison and Garrard counties have at least 10 times as many coons and coyotes as Harlan and Letcher. I suspect that there are more polecats within a mile of highway 52 between Lancaster and Richmond than there are with the entire boundaries of Harlan and Letcher combined.

I’m ready to name one of our two main roads for the buzzard. Rare is the daylight occasion when we can drive 10 miles on one of the main roads, from Paint Lick toward Richmond, Berea or Lancaster, without flushing a buzzard in the process of pigging out on a road killed critter. And, you guessed it, the primary casualties are skunks, coons and coyotes at least as often as squirrels, rabbits and possums. It’s not unusual to see a dead buzzard that failed to fly as fast as it thought it could before joining the remnants of its last meal.

Instead of flying over my place and dropping little packets of rabies vaccine, I would be far more appreciative if the Department of Something would fly over Charlie Brown Road and drop little doses of rabbit, raccoon and coyote repellant. I wouldn’t care how badly the dead fishy stuff stank if it caused the varmints to head for parts unknown and stay there.

Ideally the same stuff would work on blackbirds (flying rats), mourning doves and mocking birds. Doves and mocking birds lose all their beauty when my tomatoes start getting ripe. I’d gladly share a ripe tomato with either species if they would eat the entire fruit before starting on a new one, but that’s not the way they work. Neither one is satisfied until they have taken just a single bite out of every ripe tomato they can find in the patch.

The birds have even been eating my cucumbers and, according to my brother, Keeter, even a hog won’t eat cucumbers.

Bottle rockets would usually scare them off for several hours before dry weather set in during late August. By the middle of September, it was too dangerous to be setting off bottle rockets for fear of setting the garden on fire and having it torch the entire neighborhood. Unless we get a lot of rain here soon, instead of helicopters flying over to drop little packets of rabies vaccine we may be seeing those big tanker planes flying over to drop several thousand gallons of water at a time to put out forest fires.

I don’t know about the rest of you but, if this is not the driest time I’ve ever seen in my life, I don’t remember one worse than this.

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