Skip to Main Content Skip to Main Navigation

Rabies: What Hunters and Trappers Should Know

Brought to you by:
  • Rabies is a disease caused by a virus affecting the central nervous system. Left untreated, rabies is almost always fatal.
  • Rabies is primarily transmitted through the bite of an infected animal, however, people may also be exposed by being scratched by a rabid animal or getting an animal’s saliva into an open wound or mucous membrane (eyes, nose, or mouth).
  • Only mammals get rabies; birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians do not. Raccoons, skunks, bats, foxes, dogs, cats and some farm animals are most likely to get rabies. Rabbits, opossums, squirrels, rats, and mice are seldom affected.
  • An epidemic of raccoon rabies reached Connecticut in March 1991. Since then, rabies has infected thousands of raccoons. Cases in non-raccoon species, including dogs, cats, skunks, foxes and woodchucks have also been reported.

Hunters and trappers can minimize their risk of exposure to rabies by following several common sense rules and by knowing what to do if they or their pets are exposed:

  • Avoid contact with animals appearing sick or acting abnormal, i.e. aggressive, paralyzed, disoriented or unusually tame.
  • Wear disposable rubber gloves when dressing and skinning game, and clean up with soap and water promptly.
  • Make sure your dogs have current rabies vaccinations. If you have a cat as a household pet, be certain it is vaccinated as well.
  • If you frequently handle high risk species such as raccoons, skunks, foxes, or woodchucks, consider getting the human pre-exposure vaccine.
  • If you are bitten or scratched or think that you have been exposed to rabies from a wild animal, wash the exposed area thoroughly with soap and water, and contact your doctor or emergency clinic, immediately.
  • If possible, without further injury or risk of exposure, capture, kill or confine the wild animal without damaging the head, and contact your local health department for additional information.
  • If your pet fights with a wild animal, attempt to secure the animal for rabies testing. Always wear gloves when handling your pet or treating its wounds under such circumstances. Contact the pet’s veterinarian for advice and/or treatment.
  • Rabies virus is concentrated primarily in the saliva, brain, and spinal cord. Heat from thorough cooking will kill rabies virus, making properly cooked meat from game animals safe. When preparing meat for cooking, wearing rubber gloves and cleaning up with soap and water is recommended.
Return to the home page
Brought to you by:
Conservation Partner Advertisements: The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection allows appropriate advertising in its annual regulation guides in print and online, in order to defray or eliminate expenses to the state, and support enhanced communications with Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Constituents. Through a unique partnership with J.F.Griffin Publishing, LLC &, ‘Conservation Partners’ have been established that pay for advertising in support of the regulations both in print and online. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection neither endorses products or services listed or claims made; nor accepts any liability arising from the use of products or services listed. Advertisers interested in the Conservation Partners program should contact J.F.Griffin/ directly at 413-884-1001,
This is not the full law. Consult the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection for further details. All persons are reminded that the statutes, code and regulations are the legal authorities.
JF Griffin Media
J.F. Griffin Media reaches 9,000,000 sportsmen every year through our print and digital publications. We produce 30 hunting and fishing regulation guides for 15 state agencies. For advertising information, please visit: