The following Committees have vacancies and are looking for new members: Assessment Review Board, Economic Development, Forestry, Recreation, Transportation, and Zoning Board of Appeals. Interested residents should complete an application form online at Cityofbath.com/boards-committees or in person at the Bath City Clerk's office.
The City of Bath preliminary election results are now available. Results will be finalized at the November 9 City Council meeting.
Election Results for June 14, 2022 State Primary and RSU#1 District Budget Validation Referendum are available.
Here are the election results from the November 2, 2021, election, as ratified by City Council on November 3:
The City of Bath Annual Report for fiscal year 2020 (July 1, 2019 - June 30, 2020) is now available. This year's report includes extra content about the history of Bath in honor of the Maine Bicentennial - special thanks goes to the Patten Free Library's Sagadahoc History & Genealogy Room and the Maine Maritime Museum for their generous contributions of images and knowledge. The City would also like to thank our community partners (Bath Housing, RSU 1, the Bath Water District, Old Bath Custom's House, and Patten Free Library) and representatives (Rep. Sean Paulhus, Sen. Eloise Vitelli, Sen. Susan Collins, and Sen. Angus King) for contributing letters to this report.
Keep your pets healthy - make sure their rabies vaccination is up-to-date
Midcoast Humane, in collaboration with the City of Bath, is offering a low cost rabies vaccination clinic for dogs and cats at the Bath Regional Information Center (former train depot, 15 Commercial Street). Due to COVID-19, they are currently performing *Curbside* Rabies Clinics. If your pet cannot be taken in to see the vet without you, this service is not your best option.
To utilize this service Midcoast Humane staff MUST be able to handle your pet!
Pricing is as follows:
Rabies Vaccine: $15
Curbside Details: Volunteers will bring pets from their owner’s cars into the building for the vaccination and will deliver them back to the car when the vaccination is complete. Masks are required and social distancing practices will be upheld.
Dogs must be on a leash and cats must be in carriers. Please bring records of your pets’ previous vaccinations if available. Due to its limited capacity, clinic staff can accept a maximum of three pets per client. Make sure your animals are indeed due for vaccinations. Over-vaccinating can cause short and long term adverse side effects and has been linked to cancer and immune problems.
6/10/21 Update - Election results were ratified by City Council on June 9, 2021.
Results are available from the June 8, 2021, Regional School Unit 1 Budget Validation Referendum. Election results will go before Bath City Council for ratification on June 9, 2021.
On Friday, May 14, The State of Maine announced that fully vaccinated Americans will not have to wear face coverings indoors, effective May 24. Maine will also lift the physical distancing requirement at indoor public settings where people are eating or drinking and therefore would be removing their face covering – such as indoor restaurants, bars, dining areas in camps or in congregate living facilities, and break rooms.
Consistent with the U.S. CDC’s guidelines, it is recommended that people in Maine who are not fully vaccinated wear face coverings in indoor public settings. The U.S. CDC requires people to wear masks on all planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation.
Starting May 24th, capacity limits lifted & physical distancing requirements eased
On May 13, 2021, the State of Maine updated its public health protocols under the Moving Maine Forward Plan.
Effective May 24th, Maine will:
Face coverings must still be worn in public indoor settings. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services and Maine Department of Education will separately update school-based protocols.
The Proposed Budget for the City of Bath for 2021-2022 in accordance with the Charter of the City of Bath, Maine, Chapter VI, Section 609B, Chapter 82, Private and Special Laws, 1947, and amendments thereto with complete detail analysis, is now on display on the City’s website (Click Here to view). It is herein noticed that the 2021-2022 proposed Budget appropriates $11,747,823 for the City Operating Budget; $835,596 for the City Capital Improvement Budget (excluding Bonded); $1,839,023 for the Landfill Fund; $2,439,347 for the Sewer Utility Budget.
A Public Hearing shall be held as follows:
Wednesday, May 19, 2021
(1 MRSA § 403-A permits public proceedings through remote access during the declaration of state of emergency due to COVID-19)
How to participate:
BY ORDER OF THE MUNICIPAL OFFICERS OF THE CITY OF BATH
Darci L. Wheeler, City Clerk
Notice is hereby given that there will be a Public Meeting held via Remote Meeting on April 15, 2021 at 6 PM for the Board of Assessment Review.
All residents are invited to attend. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for link to meeting.
Bath City Hall is closed to the public until Monday, March 29, due to a COVID-19 exposure, but most operations can still be carried out online. Please click here to view online services.
City offices strictly follow Maine CDC guidelines including frequent sanitization, handwashing stations, masking, social distancing, and plexiglass shields to protect the health of public customers and City employees.
For more information, call the City Manager’s Office at 207-443-8330.
MaineHousing and Maine Community Action Agencies will be working together to support rent relief for those impacted by the COVID pandemic.
Maine has $200 million in rent relief funds from the federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program; this program will provide rental and utility relief payments to help eligible renters maintain housing stability. Maine’s Community Action Agencies will review applications, check eligibility, and process payments for eligible expenses on behalf of households. The Emergency Rental Assistance Program will begin accepting applications on Monday, March 1 at 12 p.m. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through September 2021.
Click Here to learn more, including a helpful tenant FAQ document.
The annual deadline for dog licensure in Maine is January 31. This year, however, the State has decided to extend the deadline to June 2, 2021. Late fees may be charged after that date.
Click Here to view the February 3, 2021, Executive Order
Learn More about dog licensing
BATH, Maine (January 27, 2020) – The City of Bath will offer a second round of one-time loans through its Economic Relief Bridge Program, an initiative which provided $300,000 in loans to 39 small Bath businesses in 2020. This year’s program was recommended by the City’s Economic Development Committee in response to immediate needs for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2021, and funding was approved by City Council.
The 2021 loans, funded through the Bath Iron Works TIF District, will offer up to $5,000 for small businesses in Bath, and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis with program funding up to $200,000.
The terms of the loan are two years, zero-interest, with deferred payments for the first 12 months. The loans may be forgiven as long as the loan proceeds are used to cover payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs in 2021; and employee and compensation levels are maintained or are returned to levels (as of Feb. 29, 2020), on or before December 31, 2021.
Applications and guidelines for the Economic Relief Bridge Loan Program may be obtained from the City Manager’s Office or on the City of Bath website (https://www.cityofbathmaine.gov/COVID-19EconomicRelief). A rolling application period will begin February 1, 2021. Applications will be reviewed and approved for funding by the City’s Economic Development staff. The City of Bath reserves the right to accept or reject any applications. Questions may be directed to Assistant City Manager Marc Meyers at email@example.com.
The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development recently released its 2021 program statement for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program.
Each year the State of Maine receives a formula allocation of funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to be distributed to eligible Maine communities under the Community Development Block Grant Program. In 1982, the State of Maine began administering the CDBG Program to assist units of local government in various community projects in areas ranging from infrastructure, housing, downtown revitalization to public facilities and economic development.
To review the program statement, visit https://www.maine.gov/decd/community-development/cdbg-program/statement
For more information about this program in Bath, contact Marc Meyers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-443-8330.
At the January City Council meeting, Lois Skillings, RN, FACHE, President of Mid Coast Hospital, spoke to City Councilors about COVID-19. Her presentation contained information about community spread, the hospital's second surge plan, and testing options.
You can also watch the Council meeting via BCTV On Demand: https://www.cityofbathmaine.gov/bctv-on-demand
Dog licensing runs on a calendar year, expiring on December 31st of each year. You may renew your dog license anytime between October 15th and January 31st. You must renew your dog license no later than January 31st of each year, or a $25.00 late fee will be charged, plus registration fee. The late fee is a state imposed fee and no municipality has authorization to waive this fee.
New dog licenses and renewals can be obtained at the City Clerk’s Office, Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It is highly recommended that you provide proof of the rabies vaccination. We cannot discount for a spayed/neutered dog without proof from your veterinarian. Fee for spayed/neutered dogs, $6.00, Intact dogs, $11.00.
You may, alternatively, register your dog online from October 15th to January 31st of each year. You may register online by visiting https://www1.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/dog_license/index.pl
If you are unable to register online or come to the office during office hours, you may send us your dog's current State of Maine rabies/altering certificates along with a check payable to the City of Bath. We will process your license and mail the certificate and dog tag to you.
Attn: Bath City Clerk
55 Front Street
Bath, ME 04530
The following excerpts are taken from the December 11, 2020 Press Release issued by the Office of Governor Janet T. Mills:
With widespread community transmission and increased COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Maine, Governor Janet Mills today signed an Executive Order (PDF) that simplifies and strengthens the enforcement of the State’s face covering requirement. Moving forward, owners and operators of all indoor public spaces – regardless of the type of entity or size – must not allow those who refuse to wear a face covering to enter or remain in their venue. Previous Executive Orders had required enforcement in some but not all public settings.
The Executive Order also clarifies that claiming a medical exemption is not an excuse to enter or remain in an establishment without a face covering. This comes in light of reports from retailers of individuals abusing the exemption. Reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities exist to protect such individuals as well as others from COVID-19 in public settings.
Additionally, municipalities, which are authorized to enforce the use of face coverings on streets and sidewalks, in parks and in other public spaces like town halls where individuals gather, are also required to deny entry to indoor public spaces to those who will not wear face coverings.
At the December 2, 2020, City Council Meeting, Councilors elected a new Council Chair (Aaron Park, Ward 7) and Vice Chair (Jennifer DeChant, Ward 5). City Council also welcomed a new member: Elizabeth Dingley, Councilor at Large. Councilor Dingley was sworn into office alongside: Julie Ambrosino (At Large), Phyllis Bailey (Ward 1), and Susan Bauer (Ward 6).
Learn more about Bath City Council: https://www.cityofbathmaine.gov/city-council
Please click the link below to view the November 3, 2020 election results as ratified by Bath City Council on November 4, 2020.
The Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) has awarded the City of Bath a $155,000 grant to cover any election-related expenses between June 15, 2020, and December 31, 2020, for the public purpose of planning and operationalizing safe and secure election administration.
CTCL, a nationally-recognized non-profit based in Chicago, received $250 million from Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg which CTCL has been regranting to local election jurisdictions across the country. CTCL received over 2,500 applications, including the City of Bath’s application for the minimum ask: $5,000.
CTCL decided to allocate the money “based on a formula that considers the citizen voting age population and other demographic data,” according to their website, which is why the City was awarded significantly more than their asking amount.
Examples of specific election administration needs which qualify for grant coverage include: personal protective equipment for staff, poll workers, or voters, temporary staffing, and Vote-by-mail/Absentee voting equipment or supplies.
Bath City Clerk Darci Wheelers said she intended to use the funds to cover temporary pay for election workers, extra PPE not provided by the state, voting booths, election signage, and security cameras. She anticipates that there will be a large portion of grant funds leftover, however, which will be returned to CTCL.
“It’s a huge relief to know that I can ensure this election is done to the best of my ability, without having to worry about having enough funding,” said Wheeler.
City officials will produce a report documenting how the grant funds were used by the end of January, 2021.
Sample ballots for the November 3, 2020, election are now available.
Click to view sample ballots for:
For more information on the upcoming election, please visit https://www.cityofbathmaine.gov/elections
The following candidates will be on the Municipal ballots during the November 3, 2020, Election:
At Large (2 year term to expire in 2022):
At Large (3 year term to expire in 2023):
The City’s Early Voting Polling Place for the November 3 State General & Municipal Election will be set up in the Basement Conference room at City Hall (55 Front Street).
Monday, October 5 through Friday, October 30, 8:30 a.m. - 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. - 4 p.m. (weekdays).
Saturday, October 24, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Tuesday, October 27, 4:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.
CDC safety precautions will be in place – workers will be wearing masks and be behind plexiglass barriers, social distance spacing will be implemented, voters will not share pens and voting booths will be sanitized. Voters are strongly encouraged to wear masks while voting.
For more information about the November 3 election, please click here.
Questions regarding this election can be directed to the City of Bath Clerk’s Office at (207) 443-8332 or email@example.com
Many campaigns and get-out-the-vote organizations are mailing voters absentee ballot request forms to fill out and return to their City Hall. You are not required to fill this out and send it in, but you may do so if you wish to request an absentee ballot and have it mailed to you. We'll have the ballots around October 3 and will mail you your ballot when we receive them.
We are starting to receive calls from voters who have already made their request by mail or phone for the upcoming election and are asking if they need to submit the form as well. You only need to request your ballot once, so if you have received the form and already put in a request for a ballot, you do not need to submit it. If you have any concerns, you can call the City Clerk's office at (207) 443-8332.
View the City of Bath Elections Page
Samples of mailed absentee ballot request envelopes:
The City of Bath is scheduled to hold a Special Election on Tuesday, November 3, 2020, to fill a vacancy for City Councilor At Large (term to expire December 2022).
Nomination papers will be available on Friday, September 4, 2020 through Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at the City Clerk’s Office, 55 Front Street, Bath. The nomination papers can be filed with the City Clerk between Tuesday, September 8, at 8:30 a.m. and Tuesday, September 22, at 4:30 p.m.
City Councilor At Large (term to expire December 2022) was originally opened for nominations during the regular nomination period (June 30-August 18), but there was a discrepancy in the nomination papers. Residents seeking nomination for that position were provided paperwork that indicated the resident was being nominated for City Councilor At Large for a term of three years. That position is set to expire December 2023. This error meant that there were no nominations for the City Councilor At Large (term to expire December 2022), which is a two-year term.
To rectify the error, a new nomination period was opened for City Councilor At Large (term to expire December 2022). Individuals who turned in nomination papers for the City Councilor At Large positions have been contacted, notified of the discrepancy and the new nomination period.
There are three other City Council positions open at November’s election: City Councilor Ward One (term to expire December 2023), City Councilor Ward Six (term to expire December 2023) and City Councilor At Large (term to expire December 2023). The nomination period is complete for those positions.
For more information, contact Darci Wheeler, City Clerk, at 207-443-8332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following public notice was provided to the City by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
As the notice states, a copy of the Memorandum Agreement is available at the City Clerk's Office (55 Front St, Bath). Any comments on the proposed document should be mailed to:
Director, Petroleum Management Division
Department of Environmental Protection
Bureau of Remediation and Waste Management
State House Station #17
Augusta, Maine 04333-0017
Comments must be received by the Department by 5:00 PM on September 28, 2020.
Due to ongoing public concerns over the security of mail-in absentee ballots, the City of Bath will be installing a high security ballot box at City Hall in mid-September.
Once the ballot box is in place, ballots will be collected at the beginning and end of each day that the City Clerk’s Office is open, in adherence with State guidelines. Absentee ballots may be cast by the voter or an immediate family member of the voter in the box until 8:00 p.m. on election day. The box will only be accessed by City Clerk’s Office staff.
Absentee ballots will be available 30 days prior to the election, at which time City Clerk’s Office staff will send the ballots to voters who have requested them. While the secure ballot box offers a new option for submitting absentee ballots, voters are welcome to return their ballot in person to the City Clerk’s Office or to mail in their ballot using the United States Postal Service or any official mail carrier.
More information about absentee voting for the November 3 State, General and Municipal Election is available online at https://www.cityofbathmaine.gov/elections. The City Clerk’s Office (55 Front Street) is open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (closed daily from noon to 1:00 p.m. for cleaning) and may be contacted at (207) 443-8332.
Results from June’s survey regarding the Morse High School redevelopment and reuse are now available on the City’s website. The next round of public feedback Is planned to take place in September of 2020.
This survey is part of the Morse High School Reuse Options Study that Harriman is conducting for the City. The purpose of the study is to define and evaluate reuse of the school’s facilities and site, including site assessment, building analysis, feedback and reuse options.
For more information about the study or the survey results, visit www.cityofbath.com/morse.
For additional questions, contact Marc Meyers, Assistant City Manager, at (207) 443-8330 or email@example.com.
Results from the City of Bath are available from the July 14 State Primary and Special Referendum Election. The election results were ratified by Bath City Council on July 15.
7/2/2020 UPDATE: If you have election-related business (like absentee ballots) please call the City Clerk's Office ahead of your visit at (207) 443-8332. This will help ensure that everyone's business at City Hall is handled in a timely manner.
Based on public health recommendations from the State of Maine and CDC, the City of Bath will allow greater public access to City Hall starting Monday, July 6.
City Hall, which has been accessible by appointment only since the start of June, will allow members of the public onto the first floor (where the City Clerk and Treasurer’s Offices are located) without an appointment starting Monday morning. Visitors coming to meet with other offices should continue to call ahead to schedule a meeting.
Municipal committees, City Council, and the Planning Board will continue to meet remotely until at least Friday, July 31.
Health precautions have not changed – visitors must wear a mask inside the building and maintain six-foot distancing while waiting to be seen. First floor offices will remain closed between noon and 1:00 p.m. for cleaning of the facilities.
City Hall advises that these new procedures are subject to change; they will be adjusted as necessary based on CDC recommendations, State of Maine Executive Orders, and the needs of departments and the public.
After several months of closure due to COVID-19, the Bath City Bus will resume service on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. beginning July 7.
To maintain proper distancing between the bus driver and riders, only two seats will be open on the bus at a time. Riders are asked to call a day in advance (between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday) to reserve a seat, and to restrict their use of the bus to essential travel (grocery shopping, doctor’s visits, etc.). Riders can make their reservation by calling 207-443-8363. If leaving a message, please leave a call back number.
To protect the health of staff and City Bus patrons alike, masking is required without exception. If you are sick, please do not get on the bus. The driver has the right to refuse service or to ask that someone get off the bus.
With the exception of new start and end times, the bus schedule, which can be viewed online at www.cityofbath.com/citybus, has not changed.
For questions, please email Director of Facilities Michael Peabody at firstname.lastname@example.org or Debby Labrecque at email@example.com.
CITY OF BATH
Nomination papers for the following positions:
CITY COUNCIL POSITIONS
Nomination papers will be available on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 through Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at the City Clerk’s Office, 55 Front Street, Bath.
Please call 207-443-8332 to schedule an appointment to pick up.
These nomination papers can be filed with the City Clerk
NO EARLIER than 8:30 AM on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 and
NO LATER than 4:30 PM on Tuesday, August 18, 2020.
The City of Bath Municipal Election is November 3, 2020.
Please direct questions to the City Clerk’s office at 207-443-8332.
In person absentee voting for the Maine Primary and Special Election 2020 will start on Monday, June 22 by appointment only.
If possible we would appreciate that you request your ballot by writing, phone, or online, to limit the number of people at City Hall. A reminder that face masks are required upon entrance to the building. Please call the City Clerk’s office at (207) 443-8332 to request an appointment or a ballot.
More information about the Maine Primary and Special Election 2020
On April 10, 2020, Governor Janet Mills signed an Executive Order moving Maine's primary election (for offices other than the President) from Tuesday, June 9, 2020 to Tuesday, July 14, 2020. For our area, this election includes the Special Referendum Election and RSU #1 Election. The Order also allows applications for absentee ballots to be made in writing or in person, without specifying a reason, up to and including the day of the election.
Absentee ballots will be available 30 to 45 days before the election. You may also request them up to 90 days before an election if you wish them to be mailed to you upon arrival by visiting www.maine.gov/cgi-bin/online/AbsenteeBallot/index.pl or by calling the Bath City Clerk's Office at 207-443-8332 (8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., M-F).
More information will be posted shortly on the City of Bath Elections Page.
BATH, Maine (April 17, 2020) – In a special meeting to address COVID-19 concerns on April 15, Bath City Council approved funding for an Economic Relief Bridge Loan Program in response to the immediate needs of small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The one-time loans, funded through the Bath Iron Works TIF District, will offer up to $7,500 for small businesses in Bath, and will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis with program funding up to $300,000, as of April 15, 2020.
“As a result of the operational restrictions placed on our local businesses due to the recent pandemic, we feel that the City has a responsibility to help stabilize our local economy by supporting small businesses in meeting their immediate needs,” said City Manager Peter Owen.
The terms of the loan are two years, zero-interest, with deferred payments for the first 12 months. The loans may be forgiven as long as the loan proceeds are used to cover payroll, mortgage interest, rent, and utility costs; and employee and compensation levels are maintained or are returned to levels (as of Feb. 29, 2020), on or before April 15, 2021.
Applications and guidelines for the Economic Relief Bridge Loan Program may be obtained from the City of Bath website beginning Monday, April 20, 2020. Applications will be reviewed and approved for funding by the City’s Economic Development staff, including the City Manager, Assistant City Manager, and the Director of Planning and Development. Learn more at https://www.cityofbathmaine.gov/COVID-19EconomicRelief
Due to broadcast interruptions during the April 1, 2020 City Council Regular Meeting, the meeting has been rescheduled for 6:00 p.m. on Monday, April 6. This meeting is being held via electronic devices with City Councilors participating remotely.
The public will not be able to attend this meeting in person. The meeting will be shown live on Bath Community Television (Channel 14) and BCTV On Demand (https://www.cityofbathmaine.gov/bctv-on-demand).
The Bath City Council is accepting written public comment, with respect to agenda items, in place of in-person participation from item 9 on. Public comments must be e-mailed to City Clerk Darci Wheeler at firstname.lastname@example.org. Public comments received by 5 p.m. on the date of the meeting will be provided to the City Council in advance of the meeting and will become a part of the permanent record of the meeting.
Governor Janet Mills signed an Executive Order extending the April 1, 2020 application deadline for certain property tax exemptions. The Executive Order was signed pursuant to the civil emergency proclamation, signed by the Governor on March 15, 2020.
"Ordinarily, applications for certain property tax exemptions would be submitted by April 1 to be effective for a municipality’s property tax commitment. Now, the Executive Order extends the April 1, 2020 deadline to either the commitment date of the municipality or 30 days after the termination of the declared emergency, whichever occurs first. The extended application deadline includes the following property tax exemptions: Property of Institutions and Organizations (36 M.R.S. § 652); Estates of Veterans (36 M.R.S. § 653(1)(G)); Solar and Wind Energy Equipment (36 M.R.S. §§ 655(1)(U) and 656(1)(K)); Exemption of Homesteads (36 M.R.S. § 684(1)); and Exemption of Business Equipment (“BETE”) (36 M.R.S. § 693(1))."
The Executive Order remains in effect until amended or rescinded. If you have any questions about the extended deadline, please contact your municipal assessor or the Property Tax Division of Maine Revenue Services at (207) 624-5600.
In Bath, the commitment date is generally the end of August. Thus, Bath property owners may apply for Homestead, Veterans and Solar exemptions until the end of August, or 30 days after the end of the emergency. Business owners whose business personal property is eligible for the Business Equipment Tax Exemption (BETE) program also have an extension.
View Tax Exemption Applications related to Homestead, Blind Persons, Veteran's, Veteran's Survivor Exemptions
View Tax Exemption Applications related to Solar and Wind Energy Equipment
View Tax Exemption Applications related to Exemption of Business Equipment (BETE)
The City is closely monitoring the spread of coronavirus (COVID-1). For what-you-need-to-know information, please take a moment to review this one-page CDC fact sheet: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/downloads/2019-ncov-factsheet.pdf
We will keep residents apprised of the situation as more information becomes available.
The safety and health of our residents is the foremost concern of the City of Bath. The City is actively coordinating with USDA officials regarding the effort to trap rabies vector animals. This effort results from multiple rabies attacks and exposures reported over the past 13 months. A public meeting to precede trapping will be scheduled as soon as the details are provided from USDA. The date of this meeting will be released on the City website, the City Facebook page, and via press release.
Please refer to the press release below for more information:
MDIFW, USDA Wildlife Services, City of Bath Working Together On Rabies Issue In Bath
AUGUSTA, Maine (February 13, 2020) -- The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife is working with the US Department of Agriculture Wildlife Services and the City of Bath on an integrative approach to address important human health and safety concerns surrounding rabies. A focused, localized trapping effort by USDA Wildlife Services is proposed as a management strategy to reduce wild animal population densities in the area. Details of the plan are being finalized, and there will be a public informational meeting to discuss the plan once it is complete.
Rabies is a naturally occurring disease that affects mammals, including people, primarily through a bite. Rabies is fatal if left untreated, but vaccines are extremely effective when medical treatment is sought soon after being exposed to an infected animal. Certain species of wildlife are more susceptible to rabies and have high tolerance for living in close proximity to people, such as raccoons, skunks and foxes. Bats are also considered high risk for rabies because they are sometimes found in homes, and although a small percent carry rabies, their bite marks are small and easily overlooked. Trends in the number of rabies-positive animals has been similar over the last 10 years in Maine. The risk of encountering an animal with rabies is still very low.
However, some areas of mid-coast Maine have been particularly hard hit by rabies in recent years. In 2019, the City of Bath, with a population of over 8,000 people, received 72 suspicious animal calls, 26 sick animals were dispatched by officers or citizens, and 16 animals tested positive for rabies. Of the 18 fox attacks on people or pets, 11 attacks resulted in a person being bitten or scratched. The unusual number of aggressive fox attacks on people and domestic pets has raised human health and safety concerns, and prompted the proposed focused trapping effort. Sick animals and attacks continue to be reported in 2020 in Bath and the nearby communities of West Bath and Phippsburg.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why can’t the government vaccinate wildlife for rabies?
The short answer is that it is ineffective and costly to spot treat high rabies areas. USDA Wildlife Services rabies program in Maine follows the guidelines set by the National Rabies Management Program. The goal of the program is to prevent the further spread of wildlife rabies and eventually eliminate terrestrial rabies in the United States through an integrated program that involves the use of oral rabies vaccination targeting wild animals. The approximate cost for the project in Maine is $500,000, and >80% of that cost is associated with the oral rabies vaccination (ORV) baits used to treat raccoons and other wildlife. Wildlife species account for >90% of all reported cases in the U.S. each year. The costs associated with detection, prevention and control of rabies conservatively exceed $600 million annually in the U.S. Thus, the cost-benefit ratio associated with ORV for wildlife is significant. The greatest economic savings per year (approximately $58 million) comes from preventing spread and keeping rabies from gaining a bigger geographic footprint.
Rabies elimination is a long-term goal that will include current and novel strategies but will require sustainable resources in order to succeed. Currently, the distribution of rabies in Maine is primarily in the central and southern areas of the state but there are cases in some areas of northern Maine as well (primarily Aroostook County). Before management efforts are focused in the southern part of the state, we need to eliminate the risk of further rabies spread in northern Maine. Maine is one of 14 eastern states in which USDA conducts rabies management activities. Each year, over 8 million vaccine baits are distributed in the Eastern U.S. Our goal is to first shut the door on high risk spread corridors throughout the eastern U.S., including the area we are currently working in Maine, before we can start to incrementally eliminate rabies at the local level.
It currently is cost-prohibitive and logistically not feasible to drop ORV baits statewide in Maine or any other state. The targeted area for ORV in Maine has not changed significantly from last year and is located in northeastern ME, along a portion of the border with New Brunswick. We know that smaller, more focused ORV projects (e.g. at the town scale) fail to get the desired management result because rabies continues to circulate in the surrounding untreated areas and may quickly spread back into the treated areas infecting animals that did not pick up a vaccine bait.
Why has rabies increased so suddenly in gray foxes in Bath?
The spread of disease in an animal population increases as that animal population density increases. In an area like Bath, where it is not possible to hunt or trap, some animal populations have grown unchecked, and a disease like rabies can spread rapidly through a high-density population. Rabies is a cyclical disease and it is not uncommon to observe localized outbreaks in a specific area for a period of time that eventually decline.
Has trapping in a small, populated area been done before?
Yes. Focused trapping efforts are utilized for a variety of reasons, including public health reasons and for endangered species protection, among other reasons. The operations planned in Bath are not specifically for rabies control. Wildlife Services is a program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and provides Federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts that threaten the Nation’s agricultural, natural, and property resources and human health and safety. Wildlife Services uses and recommends an integrated wildlife damage management approach, including nonlethal techniques, in addressing problems and conflict involving wildlife.
The program for Bath is intended to reduce local animal densities for human health and safety. This may have an effect on the rabies issue as the animals that will be removed are those that are common raccoon rabies vectors.
What kind of traps are being proposed to be used in the Bath area and how long would trapping last?
Cage traps are being proposed, which would allow animals other than raccoon, skunk and fox to be released. Traps would be checked a minimum of 2 times each day and not set during extreme cold temperatures. The trapping effort will be completed by the end of March to prevent orphaning young born in April.
How many animals will be killed?
The number of animals caught will depend on the number of traps set, the length of time they are set, and the weather. Animals are not caught in every trap set every night. Raccoon, skunk, red fox, and grey fox caught in traps will be euthanized and tested for rabies. There is no way to test for rabies on live animals because the test requires brain tissue.
How can people protect themselves and pets from rabies?
• Vaccinate both indoor and outdoor pets and livestock.
• Do not approach, handle, or feed wildlife; or unknown domestic animals.
• Do not move wildlife from one area to another, as this can spread rabies.
• Feed pets indoors.
• Secure trash and compost.
• Consider removing bird feeders and planting native plants to help the birds, without attracting rodents and other creatures that often lead to conflicts.
• Seal areas around your home where animals might take up residence or hide, like crawl spaces under sheds or decks.
• If confronted with an aggressive or sick animal, make noise and use whatever you can to protect yourself.
• Report sick, stray, or strange-acting animals.
• Contact a healthcare provider right away, if bitten or scratched by an animal.
• If you wake up to a bat in the house, call Maine CDC at 1-800-821-5821
Learn More on Living with Wildlife: https://www.maine.gov/ifw/fish-wildlife/wildlife/wildlife-human-issues/living-with-wildlife/index.html