Fairhope Police now have a new protocol in place in the event of a fox attack. This comes after police shot and then disposed of a fox after it attacked a woman Tuesday night, March 12, 2019. Because it happened after hours, the Baldwin County Health Department couldn’t be reached to have the animal immediately tested for rabies.
With only a couple exceptions, each reported fox attack in the last year has been in the Fairhope area. There were 10 cases in 2018, eight involving attacks on people and two on pets. Tuesday night, a woman was attacked while walking to her car on Country Woods Drive, again in Fairhope. This is the first reported attack of 2019 in Baldwin County and while the fox wasn’t tested, all indications are it was rabid.
“With that, if it was me, I absolutely would go get treated immediately. It’s a fox. It’s here in the same area so unfortunately, I think it’s probably going to come back hot,” said JJ McCool with Wildlife Solutions, Inc.
McCool has 25 years’ experience handling nuisance wildlife and stayed very busy last year. He trapped and relocated 26 foxes from the Fairhope area alone after last year’s outbreak of attacks. None of those were rabid, but it does support his theory of the area being a hot spot for encounters. McCool said the Fairhope area is prime habitat for foxes and can support much higher populations than rural forestlands.
“If this was in a large rural area, a typical woodland where there’s really high competition for food sources, the carrying capacity would be lower so you wouldn’t have as many individuals in close proximity,” McCool explained. “Here, because life is easy for most animals like raccoons and like foxes…not a lot of big predators trying to get them, they’ve got good travel corridors and their food’s pretty easily accessible, so there’s more individuals. Their density is a little higher, therefore they come into contact.”
The woman that was attacked Tuesday is receiving rabies treatments. Fairhope Police will now be contacting Wildlife Solutions on these types of cases in the future. The company will store the carcass in a cooler or freezer until it can be taken to the state lab for testing. It’s not just the human encounters that have some of the long-time residents of Fairhope concerned.
“I just remember years ago, there were so many quail, rabbits and everything in this area,” said Doug Bishop with B & B Pecans. “Now, I just don’t see the rabbits and quail and a lot of people say it was due to the coyotes and now with the foxes, you know. The quail hunting and the rabbit hunting is just not like it was during my childhood years.”
Another thing McCool stressed is for parents to make sure their children know how important it is to tell them if they’ re bitten or scratched. If the animal that bit them has rabies, it is a fatal disease so they must be treated right away.