Last week, officials tested a dead raccoon found near the lake—and the Vanderbilt Street Playground!—on the southwest end of Prospect Park and found it had rabies. This, ten months after a rabid raccoon was discovered in Boerum Hill. It might not sound like cause for alarm, but these were the first cases of rabies discovered in Brooklyn raccoons in almost twenty years! Could there be more rabid raccoons afoot?
It doesn’t seem farfetched—so why are Prospect Park officials disposing of raccoon corpses without first testing them for rabies?
Anne-Katrin Titze, the Prospect Park upstart who performs the park’s goose census for the Brooklyn Paper every week, told the Times‘ City Room blog that she photographed a dead raccoon in Prospect Park in April, but that the city has no record of that a rabies test was performed on it, even though such a test is required. (Though, the article notes, such a test cannot be performed past a certain stage in decomposition.) Central Park has had such a problem with rabid raccoons that it now vaccinates them. Is Prospect Park worried about a similar fate?
Or are they just not collecting dead raccoons until they’ve decomposed? A horse recently shit in the short, sylvan passageway that connects the Long Meadow to the Nethermead, steps from the popular Dog Beach; it went uncleaned and uncollected in the last several weeks, until it has dissolved into brown spots in the pavement. Is this just the way Prospect Park handles all of its messes? Whatever it can’t gas in the cloak of night it leaves to fester?