The House Environmental Matters Committee has killed a bill that would have added skunks to the list of animals Marylanders can keep as pets.
The state's departments of Health and Mental Hygiene and Natural Resources strongly opposed the bill, sponsored by Del. George W. Owings III of Calvert County.
State health officials contended during a hearing on the bill that skunks were "terrestrial reservoirs of rabies." They were especially concerned that the federal government has not approved a rabies vaccine for the animals.
The bill's supporters argued that since 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have documented only one case of a human contracting rabies from a skunk, and that was from a wild skunk.
They also said that the ferret rabies vaccine can be used on skunks.