Fox not seen since possible attacks in Monrovia, authorities say

·3 min read

Jul. 27—A fox that reportedly attacked at least two people in Monrovia this month has not been found, according to Frederick County Animal Control.

The Frederick County Health Department issued a press release on July 17, stating that a fox attacked "more than one person" the previous day near a bridge on a walking path close to a pond in the Landsdale neighborhood.

The release said the fox wasn't afraid of people or dogs. The health department also included information about rabies, so the public could be aware of symptoms and signs, said Alicia Evangelista from the department's Division of Environmental Health.

"Although the fox has not been captured or tested for rabies, unprovoked attacks are one of the signs of a rabid animal ...," the release said.

Other signs include "unusually friendly or aggressive behavior, excessive salivation, limping and/or other atypical behaviors such as nocturnal animals emerging during the daytime," the release said.

There's no way to know if an animal has rabies without testing it after it's dead, said Sgt. Maggie Hill, a supervisor for Frederick County Animal Control.

People who might have been exposed to rabies should consult with medical professionals, Evangelista said.

Clarissa Harris, the wildlife response manager for the state's Department of Natural Resources western region, said there was something unusual about the fox's behavior, regardless of whether it had rabies.

If the fox had rabies, based on its behavior, it was likely near the end of its life, she said.

"It will not survive much after that. It may have crawled off and died," she said.

Hill said Animal Control heard of a person who was in physical contact with a fox around 12:10 p.m. on Jul 16. An animal control officer arrived and searched for the fox — in a vehicle and on foot — around 1:33 p.m.

The officer didn't find the fox, she said. The next day, Animal Control received a report that another person in the same area was in physical contact with the fox.

Hill said that even if Animal Control found the fox, it is not equipped to handle wildlife. Trying to catch the animal could be dangerous for the animal and the officer, she said.

"Because we don't have firearms and permits to trap wildlife, it's out of our scope of what we do," she said.

Therefore, Animal Control notified DNR about the fox, Hill said.

However, Harris said DNR hasn't heard anything about the fox since the first two reports of possible contact.

Harris said that if the fox has rabies, it would be a public health issue for the county's health department and local law enforcement.

She recommended that if someone sees a wild animal acting unusually friendly, it's still a good idea to stay away. She said people can call the DNR 24/7 hotline at 410-260-8888.

The health department press release said that anyone who might have been exposed to the fox can call Animal Control at 301-600-1544 or the health department at 301-600-3342.

Follow Clara Niel on Twitter: @clarasniel