PAICINES — Pinnacles National Park has issued a warning to visitors about a disease outbreak that affects dogs and other animals after recently finding several sick or dead gray foxes on park trails.
In a Nov. 7 news release, park staff said one of the foxes has tested positive for canine distemper, a disease that can be spread from domesticated dogs to local wildlife species, including gray foxes, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, badgers and possibly mountain lions.
“Canine distemper outbreaks occur periodically in wildlife and can have significant impacts on an affected population. It is difficult to predict how long this outbreak will last, or how many animals will be impacted,” according to the news release.
Although humans are not known to contract canine distemper, domesticated dogs are highly susceptible.
“People who are considering bringing a pet to the Pinnacles should be informed about risks to their pets from wildlife diseases, and to make sure pets are healthy and up to date on vaccines in order to reduce the risk of spreading diseases to park wildlife,” the release continued.
Pets are not allowed on trails and must be kept on leash. They are only allowed in developed areas, such as roads, picnic areas and the campground.
“As always, park visitors are encouraged to enjoy wildlife from a safe distance,” park staff said in the release. “Canine distemper usually causes animals to become lethargic or disoriented, but an animal that feels threatened or cornered may act aggressively.”
Visitors who see an animal that appears to be dead, sick or behaving strangely should not approach it, park staff advised. Instead, they should note details and the location, and then report it to park staff as soon as possible.