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Fox attacks W.Va. 8-year-old girl

July 09, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A fox attacked an 8-year-old girl Wednesday evening as she played outside her home with her baby sitter, according to witnesses.

Lauren Riviello was still undergoing treatment at the City Hospital emergency room in Martinsburg, W.Va., a hospital official said Wednesday night.

Neighbors in the Evermay Manor subdivision off W.Va. 45, about four miles east of Martinsburg said they heard screams for help and ran over to the Riviello residence.

The girl and a baby sitter had been jumping on a trampoline when the fox came out and started circling the ground around the trampoline, said neighbor Tina Edwards.

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The child panicked and jumped off the trampoline to the ground and started to run when the fox attacked her, Edwards said.

Riviello had several bite marks on her leg which were bleeding, Edwards said.

The fox then ran off into the woods, Edwards said.

Shortly after the 6:20 p.m. attack, the girl's mother arrived home and an ambulance was called, Edwards said.

After Lauren Riviello went to the hospital, neighbors who had gathered around the yard saw the fox return.

"The fox was jumping up like it was playing with the swing. It was pushing the swing and biting at it so we all took off back into the house," Riviello said.

Neighbor William Young grabbed a shotgun from his house and went looking for the fox, but was unable to find it.

"It probably ran off into the brush," Young said.

Edwards said there are several foxes living in the neighborhood and she and the other residents see them occasionally.

Edwards said one walked through her front yard on Tuesday during the daytime, ignoring her and others standing in front of the house.

"I've never seen them like this before," she said.

"That's not typical behavior," said Steven Bittner, a forest game biologist with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Foxes are usually nocturnal creatures, shy of people, Bittner said.

Sometimes people will see young foxes playing or a fox mother out searching for food during the daytime this time of year, Bittner said.

People are occasionally bitten by foxes, usually when they approach a sick animal or when they attempt to feed one by hand, Bittner said.

But Bittner said he's never heard of a fox attacking a person.

"Foxes are fairly common, but since they're active at night people usually don't know they're around," Bittner said.

He said it is less common for foxes to catch rabies, a possible cause for this animal's strange behavior.

Any mammal can carry rabies, but raccoons seem to catch it more than other wild animals, Bittner said.

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