Smethport teen arrested for slashing 12 year old girl….Elk County juvenile accused of lying under oath….vehicle vandalism investigated in Tioga County….Game Commission seeking input about rabbit mortality…..
State police a Lewis Run are charging a 13 year old Smethport boy with assault with a weapon for an incident allegedly taking place Saturday afternoon at the McKean County Fair Grounds. Troopers claim the teen assaulted a 12 year old Wilcox girl with a knife causing a large laceration on her arm.
An Elk County juvenile has been cited for making false statements under oath. In March the youth admitted, under oath, to eight sex assault related cases stemming from a state police investigation in 2021. Then, this past June, the juvenile testified under oath that he had lied about the eight sexual assault cases at the March proceeding.
State police at Mansfield are investigating a criminal mischief taking place between July 25 and August 1 in Richmond Township. Vandals poured sugar in the gas tank of a 2017 Nissan Altima while it was parked on Canoe Camp Creek in Richmond Township. The car is owned by a 37 year old Covington, PA woman. Anyone with information is asked to call the Mansfield barracks at 570.662.2151.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is asking members of the public to report any hare/rabbit mortality events – defined as finding two or more dead hares/rabbits at the same location with an unknown cause of death – by calling 1-833-PGC-WILD or by using the online Wildlife Health Survey reporting tool at https://www.pgcapps.pa.gov/WHS.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, two captive rabbits from a facility located in Fayette County tested positive for Rabbit Hemorrhagic (Hem or ah jik)Disease Virus 2 (RHDV2), one of the viruses that causes Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease (RHD).
Domestic rabbit owners who have questions about this disease should contact their veterinarians, who in turn should immediately report suspected cases of RHD to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Health at 717-772-2852, option 1. Veterinarians can call this line anytime.
Outbreaks of RHDV2 have previously been reported in domestic and wild rabbits across the United States. As of August 2022, it is considered endemic in wild lagomorph (hare/rabbit) populations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. It’s been detected in domestic rabbit populations in those states, as well as Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin.
And now Pennsylvania. The Fayette County case marks its first occurrence here.
The Game Commission has an RHD Management Plan in place. It outlines various strategies the agency may consider to protect Pennsylvania’s wild rabbits and hares. That plan can be found at https://www.pgc.pa.gov/Wildlife/WildlifeHealth/Pages/Rabbit-Hemorrhagic-Disease.aspx.
RHDV2 is a highly pathogenic and contagious virus affecting hares, rabbits and closely related species. First identified in domestic rabbits in France in 2010, it has since caused mass die-offs in wild hare and rabbit populations in several countries. It showed up in the United States in early 2020 and is now already considered endemic in wild rabbit populations in some western states.
The disease is spread from animal to animal several ways, including direct animal-to-animal contact, ingestion of contaminated food or water; inhalation; contact with contaminated equipment, tools and enclosures; viral movement by flies, birds, biting insects, predators, scavengers and humans; and contact with urine, feces and respiratory discharges from infected individuals. The virus can survive on clothing, shoes, plant material or other items that could accidentally be moved from an infected area by humans or other animals.
Hares and rabbits that do not immediately die following infection may present with poor appetites, lethargy, and blood coming from their mouths or noses.
There is no specific treatment for RHD and it is often fatal, with die-offs of local populations potentially reaching 75 to 100%. The virus is very resilient and may remain on the landscape for months, too.
RHD poses no human health risk. However, multiple dead or sick hares and rabbits can also be a sign of tularemia or plague, diseases that can cause serious illness in humans. Therefore, it’s important that the public not handle or consume wildlife that appears sick or has died from an unknown cause. It is also important to prevent pets from contacting or consuming wildlife carcasses.