Three fox attacks occur near elementary school Monday – Press Herald

BATH — A fox attacked three men near Fisher Mitchell School Monday morning, biting at their legs.

The first man was walking to work on Middle Street near Bath Iron Works at around 6:45 a.m. when the fox bit his pant leg, according to Bath Animal Control Officer Ann Harford. The man kicked the fox and it ran off.

Later Monday morning, the fox tried to bite a second man working in his yard near where the first attack happened. The animal nipped at his legs and he fought it off with a stick. He was treated for rabies exposure at a hospital, according to police.

Four or five officers searched for the fox believed to be rabid. Bath Deputy Chief Andrew Booth said officers tried to notify neighbors and called Fisher Mitchell School and Hyde School to alert them about the fox.

The fox was also spotted attacking garbage bins on Tarbox Street.

“It’s a teeny tiny animal that’s running around and you don’t know where it went, and you know somethings wrong with it,” Booth said.

At around 1 p.m., Bath police received a report of a fox trying to bite a man outside his house on Libby Court, which is a few hundred feet from the school and near the general area of the previous sightings. The man called police who found the fox and shot it, killing it.

That fox will be brought to the Department of Health and Human Services lab to be tested for rabies.

Rabies is a viral disease that infects the nervous system of mammals, making the infected animal unusually aggressive. It is transmitted primarily through bites and exposure to saliva or spinal fluid from an infected animal.

Over the weekend,  Bath police shot and killed another sick-looking fox on Tarbox Street, which is in the general vicinity of Bath where Monday’s incident occurred. This fox was disposed of but presumed to have rabies given its behavior.

In a statement, police said, “There was no exposure to people or pets for that incident.”

Sindy Newell lives on Tarbox Street and said one of her neighbors had to barricade themselves in a shed from an aggressive fox on Sunday shortly before 1 p.m.

Newell thought it was safe to be outside since that fox was caught. She had just put some Christmas cards in the mailbox Monday morning and went back inside when she heard a boom. She stepped outside her home to see a fox leap headbutting a neighbor’s trash can near the end of her driveway.

“I think I let out a scream,” she said.

The fox had just missed her by seconds and she believes it would have attacked her if it had set eyes on her. Since she just had knee surgery and is walking with a cane.

“If he would have come after me, I’m just so scared thinking about how I would protect myself,” she said.

She also called to alert Fisher Mitchell School, which she can nearly see from her home and where her 7-year-old son attends. She said she is worried about other children in the neighborhood, particularly those that walk home after getting off the bus.

Principal Ross Berkowitz said Fisher Mitchell students were kept inside for recess Monday. He was prepared to transport himself those students who walk to school and who would be out of sight of crossing guards. Bath Bus Service, which provides transportation for the school, was aware of the situation as well, he said.

However, police killed the fox before school let out for the day.

Berkowitz said the school has educated students about normal animal behavior and instructed them to tell an adult if they see an animal not acting right.

Monday’s fox attack comes a day before the city is scheduled to hold an informational meeting on rabies for the public after a string of animal attacks that began in August. The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the City Hall Auditorium

This year Bath has had 15 wild animals test positive for the virus. A 6-year-old girl was bitten by a rabid fox on Bumpy Hill Road in August and an 87-year-old man was attacked by a fox on Getchell Street in September. On Nov. 3, a 52-year-old man was knocked over and bitten by a rabid fox and pinned against his home while in his backyard on Washington Street.

Rabies is a viral disease that infects the nervous system of mammals, making the infected animal unusually aggressive. It is transmitted primarily through bites and exposure to saliva or spinal fluid from an infected animal.

Two weeks ago the city issued a warning to residents to steer clear of animals acting strangely.

A total of 95 wild animals have tested positive for rabies statewide this year as of Dec.12, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Bath Police continue to urge residents to report suspicious-acting animals, keep their pets up to date on their rabies vaccinations and boosters, and if there are any chances of exposure, to have themselves or their pets checked out by medical professionals,” Booth wrote in a news release.

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