Crews from Ontario’s ministry of natural resources will drop rabies vaccine baits by hand in the western half of Toronto this summer to prevent the spread of the disease among wild animals.

The baiting is part of a larger $4 million provincial program designed to curb the spread of rabies in such animals as raccoons, skunks, foxes and bats.

Maimoona Dinani, a communications officer with the ministry, said there have been no confirmed cases of what is known as fox strain or raccoon strain rabies in Toronto wildlife since December 2015, but baiting in areas west of Yonge Street will begin in mid-July and continue until the fall as a preventative measure.

Baits will be dropped by helicopter in small areas in the city on the west side that are mostly green spaces and inaccessible on foot. Crews will also drop baits by hand in Mississauga and Brampton.

“Our government is committed to protecting the public, their pets and livestock from rabies and Ontario is recognized as a leader in rabies control,” Dinani said in an email this week.

In addition to Toronto, ground crews will drop baits by hand in such urban areas as Hamilton, Burlington, Brantford, Kitchener and Niagara Falls.

And as part of the program, aircraft will drop rabies baits across eastern and southern Ontario, including the Stratford, Hamilton and Niagara Peninsula areas.

Dinani declined to say how many baits will be dropped in Toronto, but she said the western half of Toronto will be baited, as opposed to the eastern half, because the ministry distributes baits within 50 kilometres of confirmed positive cases.

About 250 animals have tested positive for raccoon strain rabies in Hamilton since December 2015.

There have been 331 cases of raccoon strain and nine cases of fox strain rabies in Ontario since that time. The species that have had confirmed cases of either strain of rabies have included raccoons, skunks, foxes, cats, llamas, and cows.

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