Rabid fox goes on the attack

A fox walks around the playground at Loon’s Haven Family Campground. It left the yard and then returned, chasing campground co-owner Anne Mason around her garage. (Photo courtesy of Anne Mason)

A fox walks around the playground at Loon’s Haven Family Campground. It left the yard and then returned, chasing campground co-owner Anne Mason around her garage. (Photo courtesy of Anne Mason)

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — What began as a cute wildlife sighting — a fox playing with a soccer ball — turned horrific for some campground owners and their guests.

The co-owner of Loon’s Haven Family Campground pulled into her yard to witness what appeared to be a playful fox. Anne Mason remained in her vehicle with her two young children until it left. While unloading her groceries and bringing the children into the home, the fox returned, entered her garage, and chased her back and forth until she was able to escape into the mudroom.

On Thursday, the rabid fox also attacked several people, including a woman who was bitten while walking her two dogs near Route 114.

The Center for Disease Control in Augusta said that the animal tested positive for rabies, according to Maine State Game Warden Pete Herring.

“These are very isolated instances. What we don’t want to do is create mass hysteria,” he said, adding his department gets hundreds of calls about each and every fox sighting after such an incident involving rabies becomes public knowledge.

“This was unfortunate. It was dealt with. However tragic that is, these are very isolated instances. They don’t happen very often,” he said.

“Just for peace of mind, I went up there on the second day for three to four hours. My main concern was that it was in the area that was going to be occupied by children when the campground was full on the weekend,” Herring said. s

According to Mike Mason, his wife Anne was chased by the fox in their garage. Although the fox did not bite her, she has received rabies shots because she came into contact with the animal’s saliva, he said.

“My wife is still a little leery about going outside,” he said.

Mason related the events that happened beginning about mid-morning on Thursday.

“I wasn’t there. My wife called me on the phone after it happened,” he said.

“The fox came up to the house twice. He was playing with my daughter’s soccer ball,” he said, adding at the time she thought it was fairly normal fox behavior and didn’t want to scare it away.

The fox left but not for long.

“He started chasing her through the garage. She ran and swatted at him with a shoe,” Mason said.

“We have two garages with a door in between. Finally, she shut the door behind her and went into the mud room,” he said.

“He started running into the door, trying to get in there. It was pretty crazy,” he said.

After hearing the news via a phone call from his wife, Mason called a friend of his who is also a game warden.

Herring happened to be in the area. But, he didn’t come alone. He had a film crew with North Woods Law, a series that appears on the Animal Planet channel.

When Mason arrived home, the warden was there along with the film crew. Some time passed; and then someone spotted the fox by a campsite, Mason said.

But, at the time there were too many people in the vicinity for Herring to get a clean shot, Mason said.

Warden Herring explained his decision not to shoot the fox while it was in that part of the campground.

“I spent the better part of three and a half hours when the original report came in. I saw the fox, and I didn’t have a good opportunity to take a shot at the fox. There were too many campers milling around,” he said.

“A lot of people asked me why I didn’t just shoot the fox. I don’t have a problem with killing an animal that is in distress, but I am responsible for that bullet. Foxes don’t have much body mass, and likely the bullet would go through the fox and either hurt someone or damage personal property,” he said.

The fox ran across the road and toward Route 114.

“That is when we lost him,” Mason said.

The fox encountered a woman walking her two dogs near Clements Road.

“It bit her pretty bad. She got it the worst. It knocked her on the ground,” he said.

Also, somebody at another campground on Trickey Pond came into contact with the fox while it was in attack mode.

“The evening is when one of my campers got bit. I was down raking the beach with a piece of equipment,” Mason said.

A lady came down screaming that an animal had attacked them, he said.

The frenzied animal ran toward the campground store.

“A guy was standing there with his foot across the fox, across the fox’s neck,” he said.

Mason shouted to his wife to grab a gun. Before she could do so, another camper pulled a knife from their vehicle and asked the man with his foot on the fox if he would be okay with using the knife to kill it. He stabbed it in the skull, but the ordeal wasn’t quite over.

The fox “wouldn’t stop moving. I ran him over with a skid steer twice before he stopped moving,” Mason said.

According to a campground employee at Loon’s Haven, Heidi Reid Healey, it was an extraordinary and emotional day for all those involved.

“The warden service was called and Warden Pete Herring came to the campground along with the crew from North Woods Law. They filmed the whole fox hunt here for a future episode. It was quite a day, sadly ending with three people and two dogs being bitten by the fox before” it was killed, Healey said.

“It was an eye-opening experience for us,” Mason said.

According to Herring, being attacked by a rabid fox definitely falls into the category of rare outdoor experiences.

 

 

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