Fox bites woman on Sun City nature trail; animal captured, euthanized

astice@islandpacket.comApril 23, 2012 

A fox attacked a 93-year-old woman on a Sun City Hilton Head nature trail Saturday, biting her on her right calf and both hands as she struck it with her walking cane, according to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office.

The fox has been captured and euthanized, and the trail running from Col. Thomas Heyward Road to Sun City Boulevard has been reopened after it was cordoned off after the attack.

The woman was treated for rabies at Coastal Carolina Hospital and released in good health, the report said.

Meanwhile, Beaufort County Animal Control set a trap near the trailhead by the Blue Heron Village neighborhood, where the woman and her neighbor had been talking before the fox approached.

On Sunday morning, security officers found that a fox had been caught, said Sun City communications director Martin Smith.

Animal-control officers euthanized the fox and sent it to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control for testing, said Lt. Glenn Zanelotti of the Sheriff's Office.

Foxes typically are nocturnal, and it is unusual for them to approach people, DHEC spokesman Adam Myrick said.

"We operate under the assumption that they're rabid when there's a daytime attack," he said. The testing should be completed quickly, he added.

Sgt. Michael Paul Thomas of the S.C. Department of Natural Resources offered some other explanations.

"This is the time of year when foxes are having their cubs," Thomas said, "there could have been a litter close by, and it might have been out hunting all day and all night to bring food back to the cubs."

Thomas said there's also a chance a fox in a densely populated area such as Sun City might have been fed by people, which can make wild animals aggressive.

Wildlife is abundant in Sun City, including foxes, alligators and the occasional bobcat, said Smith, the communications director.

"We caution residents, visitors and guests to be mindful of that and to be careful," Smith said. "Certainly, these two residents were as careful as they could be, as they were on a nature trail on a raised platform when they were surprised by a fox."

The fox-bite victim declined to comment on the incident.

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