Finding Answers About Animal Control Policies - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Finding Answers About Animal Control Policies

Updated: May 14, 2013 10:08 PM CDT

With the warmer weather comes more wildlife spottings, but what if the animal you spot appears sick and not right? Who can you call for help?

That answer isn't always clear.

Rock Island homeowner Kelly Cook says seeing wild animals in her back yard is not unusual.

"We have gophers and opossums and raccoons and chipmunks and squirrels," she said.

But, lately, something strange has been happening. She has found four dead animals in three weeks.

"About two and a half weeks ago, we found the first opossum over here," Cook told us, pointing to an area of grass near her fence, "And then about a week later we found the other opossum right here," she said, pointing to an area a few feet away. "And then today - which is a week later - we found the raccoon, over there."

Plus, she found a third dead opossum just over her property line.

"I don't know if it is rabies or if somebody has something out that is poisoning the animals," she said.

That has left this mother of four worried:

"We only come in the front yard now," she told us.

And figuring just what to do about these animals has left her frustrated and scratching her head.

Cook called just about everybody she could think of - the city of Rock Island's animal control, the health department, and the department of natural resources, to name a few.

She says she just kept getting told to call someone else.

The question is - just whose responsibility is to take care of this sort of problem?

The answer: It depends.

"You'd have to check with your local cities," Samantha DeYoung, Operations Manager for Rock Island County Care and Animal Control, explained.

"I know the county will come out if it's something we can take care of. If it's not something we can take care of, then we'll direct you on who to get to," she said.

Rock Island County Animal Care and Control says it's not licensed to deal with wildlife like that - only cats and dogs.

If the wild animal has died after biting a human, animal control can pick up and send it off to the Department of Agriculture office in Galesburg to be tested for rabies.

If the animal is found dead, but hasn't bitten a person, it's the home owner's responsibility to dispose of the carcass.

But, if the animal is alive, you'll need to contact a private wildlife removal company on your own to take care of it - and pick up the tab for those services.

One company we talked to said that could run you between $65-$105.

"I think we were all under the same impression that that's kind of what animal control was there for," Cook said.

The responsibilities of the animal control agency also depend on where you live.

Iowa and Illinois have different laws, and different agencies have different policies for handling wildlife.

For example, Scott county animal control is able to pick up injured and orphaned animals - but it's contract is only good for calls in Davenport.

Calls outside Davenport are referred to local law enforcement agencies for help.

When it comes to the animals in Kelly Cook's yard, Rock Island County Animal Control officials point out that the risk to people at this point is minimal.

Rabies is pretty rare, and is only communicable to humans through an animal bite - not through simply handling the carcass.

An animal that's acting strange is just as likely to have another disease, like distemper. That can't be spread to humans at all.

Your pets should be vaccinated against both diseases.