Fox dilemma leads to rabies fact checking

Fox dilemma leads to rabies fact checking (Image 1)
Fox dilemma leads to rabies fact checking (Image 1)

WSLS Anchor Karen McNew became interested in rabies cases in Virginia after her own experiences dealing with wild animals near her home.


Am I the only one living in wild kingdom these days?

I live in a rural community and I love it. When I get home from work, I like the peace and quiet of sitting on the screened porch and only hearing the sound of crickets or an energetic mockingbird. This summer has been more active than usual for us. Normally, we see a snake and plenty of squirrels, but this year has topped the last few.

Let’s start with the birds. We had a small nest with three blue eggs in one of our pencil holly trees. Then, a dove build a nest under our deck boards and Daisy wanted to dig and sniff the deck boards until she was able to get to the momma bird and her egg. A well placed door mat allowed all of us to keep our sanity until the baby hatched and the two moved on.

Near our walkway, a momma duck laid 8 eggs. She kept getting scared when we walked by and, on once occasion, knocked two eggs out of the nest. One of the eggs broke, but the other one was carefully nudged back into the bowling ball-sized hole she had created for the nest. 

We eventually learned to live with each other and Matt and I were looking forward to seeing the little ducklings when they hatched.

I was so bummed when I got a text from Matt that said, “Something got to every single one of our duck’s eggs.”

That brings me to the other wildlife encounters we have had with a fox. A few weeks ago Matt took Daisy out for the last time late one night and when he came in he said, “I wish you had been out there to help me.”

I replied, “With what?”

Turns out the fox didn’t run off when Matt and Daisy walked out the front door but slowly started walking toward them. When Matt tried to shoo it off, it came running at them making some crazy noises. A fluke right?

The next night, before I took Daisy out for the last time, I asked Matt to go with us. I honestly didn’t think it would be out there again so I was a few steps ahead of him.

I got outside and there was the fox, partially hiding behind a tree peering at us.

I grabbed a big stick and yelled,”Get back!!”

The fox was not amused, or scared for that matter. Matt came out and it started running at us.

He yelled, “Run!”

So Daisy and I scramble to get inside and Matt is right behind us. We looked out the small window in our door and it was running down our sidewalk and then urinated next to the sidewalk.

Every night we went out prepared to face the fox. For weeks, he has been no where to be seen until two nights ago.

We got home from a late dinner and our neighbors sitting outside around a fire pit yelled at us as we were taking Daisy out.

There went the fox running across our driveway, and inside we ran.

I love our neighbors from Long Island and a family member explained the fox had been lingering all night. Every time they tried to run him off, he went over to our driveway, as if he was waiting for us to go outside with Daisy.

So outside we go, me with Daisy and a flashlight and Matt with a shot gun. We fear the fox is rabid. I can only imagine what our neighbors’ visiting family members will tell people back home in Long Island about us when they leave.

So our fox dilemma continues and neighbor plans to set a trap. I also think the fox is the one who got our duck’s eggs.

The Virginia Department of Health warns that we should be wary of any animals that act suspicious. I wanted to find out how common it is for foxes to be rabid and I found for this year the highest number of cases have been in raccoons with 123, next skunks with 69 and third are foxes with 22.

Link to the latest itemized number of rabies cases reported across communities across Virginia.

Link to more VDH advice about preventing rabies.

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