A state Department of Environmental Conservation police officer got an urgent call from the Erie County Department of Health about a potentially rabid raccoon on June 2, the DEC said in a news release.
The health department said a couple had brought a raccoon to a pet store for food and supplies and a store employee contacted authorities. Raccoons are considered dangerous wild animals because they are known to carry and transmit the deadly rabies virus.
The DEC officer used store surveillance video, a store-issued rewards card and license plate information to locate the couple in the town of Attica in western New York, the department said. The owners turned the raccoon over and were each charged with unlawfully possessing a wild animal, which is subject to $500 fine, authorities said.
The raccoon that was confiscated from the couple was euthanized and tested for rabies — a test that can only be performed on an animal after it has died. The test was negative, the DEC said.