September 20, 2020

A Warning for Hunters, Trappers and all Outdoor Enthusiasts

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*Editor’s Note* – This article first appeared in the Bethel Citizen

Open Air
with Tom Remington
A Warning for Hunters, Trappers and all Outdoor Enthusiasts

Earlier in this news publication I shared an article about a potentially dangerous tapeworm that is being spread across the landscape by wild carnivores. In Maine it is mostly being done by the state’s version of wolf/coyote hybrid.

I realize Maine is in the midst or end of bear and moose hunting seasons, but trapping season is about to gear up, deer hunting season is on the doorstep and many people are taking to the fields and streams to peep at some leaves and get in some late summer and early fall hikes. This is perhaps the busiest time for people to be outside and in the forests and fields.

I would like to take a moment to alert readers to precautions they can take that will lesson any chances of contracting Hydatid disease, the result of infections perpetuated by Echinococcus granulosus (E.g.) tapeworm eggs. It is these eggs found in the feces of wild canines that offers the greatest threat to humans in the outdoors. Perhaps I can put it in a perspective that’s more easily understood.

It has been estimated that during a 15-year period, the Greater Yellowstone area has probably been blessed with some 2.8 million wolf droppings (1,500-2,000 wolves). Add to that coyotes and other canines and the numbers skyrocket. The short of it is, that in areas where E.g. exists, the landscape is polluted with egg-infested wild canine droppings. Keep this in mind. While unofficial, some estimates put wolf/coyote populations in Maine between 20,000 and 30,000.

Here are my suggestions, and please visit tomremington.com and seek the menu near the top, “Wildlife Diseases” for more information.

These suggestions are mostly geared to hunters and trappers but apply the guidelines to your outdoor activity.

1. Never disturb wolf/coyote droppings. The E.g. eggs are tiny spores that cling and can become air-born if disturbed. They are viable in heat and cold as well as in water.
2. Handling game should be done with caution. Assume Hydatid cysts are present in all game and on the landscape. Use rubber gloves. Avoid any contact with mouth or eyes and open cuts. Although it is highly unlikely infections can be transmitted to humans by rupturing a cyst, it is possible. Therefore, try to avoid rupturing any cysts. Bear in mind some rupturing may have occurred from gun shot or trauma.
3. Make sure to properly cook any meat before consumption. Again the odds of ingesting fluid from a ruptured cyst are slim, heat will kill it.
4. Trappers must exercise extreme caution when handling coyotes/foxes/canines. Assume eggs persist on all parts of the animal’s fur and mouth/tongue.
5. Wash and sanitize outdoor clothing. Eggs can cling to shoes, boots, clothing, hands, hair, traps, etc.
6. If outdoors with dog, wash dog as soon as possible. You don’t know everything your dog has been into while outside. I suggest leaving the dog outdoors.
7. Realize that just a walk in the woods, the fields and forests, they are contaminated with millions of piles of scat. This gets picked up on the feet of animals and humans, gets spread around and is brought home on boots, pants, etc. Birds, flies, butterflies can spread the eggs.

Remember the biggest threat comes from getting the E.g. eggs into your mouth or lungs through breathing. Assume that in the outdoors, the eggs may be everywhere and on anything. Proceed accordingly.

While historically Hydatid disease has not been known to be a problem in the United States, it is in parts of the world where people have dealt with wolves and coyotes for centuries. In Romania, medical reports show that from 1979-1988, 8,557 people contracted Hydatid disease: 516 died.

Please use caution and take steps to reduce threats of infection.

You can find more information on this subject and many others dealing with hunting, fishing, trapping and the outdoors at tomremington.com.

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