Grand Canyon National Park Bats Test Positive For Rabies

A colony of Townsend’s big-eared bats near the Grand Canyon in 2017. (Photo by Shawn Thomas/National Park Service)

Two bats collected along the Colorado River in Grand Canyon National Park last month have tested positive for rabies. The rabies-positive bats, both Canyon Bats, were deceased at the time of collection and did not come in contact with any visitors or staff.

There are 22 species of bats that live within the park. In a healthy colony, typically less than 1% of bats are sick with rabies.

All mammals are susceptible to rabies, including bats, skunks, and foxes. Possible rabies infections should be considered in animals that exhibit unusual or aggressive behavior or that are not afraid of humans.

Grand Canyon National Park officials are urging the public to protect themselves from rabies:

  • Never approach or touch wildlife.
  • Observe and appreciate wildlife from a safe distance.
  • In areas where pets are allowed, make sure that pets are vaccinated and kept on a leash at all times.
  • Domestic animal contact with bats should be minimized.
  • Teach children to tell you if they are bitten or scratched by an animal.

Anyone who has had contact with a bat or other wild animal in the park should notify a park employee as soon as possible. You should consult with your doctor in the event you have contacted an animal thought to be rabid.

While on a river trip take extra precaution and sleep in a tent for protection. Public health officials should be contacted if a bat is found in a room where a person has been sleeping.

If you see sick or erratic behaving wildlife, notify a park employee or call the park’s 24-hour emergency communications center at 928-638-7805.

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