PHOENIX — Some students at Northern Arizona University are working on a project that really stinks: trapping skunks, outfitting them with radio collars and setting them free.
NAU Biology Professor Tad Theimer said they’re trying to find out how many skunks are in the Flagstaff area, but they’re also trying to solve a mystery.
One day, a rabid bat bit a skunk. Normally, it would have died, but something else happened.
“But what seemed to happen in this incident 10 years ago, is that the bat variant rabies didn’t kill all of the skunks that it got into,” he said. “It was actually able to be maintained within the skunks.”
It’s called a host shift, where the virus moves from one species to another one where it can actually maintain itself indefinitely through time.
Theimer said they’ve trapped, tagged, collared and released about 40 skunks so far.
“These radio collars not only send us a signal so that we can follow the animal, they also send out a signal so that anytime two collared animals come within a preset distance of each other — in our case about one to two meters — they will record each others identification and the day and time when they came that close together,” said Theimer.
The researchers have to re-trap the skunks in order to get all of the information. The workers have had their rabies shots.
Theimer said he gets sprayed by about one out of every ten skunks. He likens the experience to being hit with pepper spray. He said that he gets so used to the smell that he doesn’t even notice it, until he walks by someone else who lets him know that there’s a problem.
Theimer and his team hope their research will one day lead to a better way to control rabies and keep people and their pets safe.
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Water tips to save money, help save the Earth
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon
- What you need to know about Alzheimer's disease in Arizona
- Spring clean your windows like a pro with these 8 tips
- 7 films that should have won best-picture Oscars
- New plumbing technology saves money and improves your home
- Survey shows Arizona CFOs optimistic about 2016
- How chronic pain can affect your love life
- 5 potential warning signs about your child's development