TOPSHAM, Maine — A Wiscasset man was treated at Mid Coast Hospital on Tuesday after he was attacked by a gray fox that game wardens suspect was rabid.
Mark Sleeper was working at Grimmel Industries at Pejepscot Village off Route 196 just before 7 a.m. when a gray fox bit his hand, Cpl. John MacDonald of the Maine Warden Service said.
“He was out walking around, and a gray fox just literally ran right up to him and grabbed onto his hand,” MacDonald said.
Sleeper was able to pull the fox off his hand, but it returned and bit him again in the hand, causing what MacDonald said was likely a “fairly substantial wound.” After Sleeper again pulled the fox off his hand, the fox ran into the woods, MacDonald said.
MacDonald said surveillance video captured the attack.
Game Warden Bob Decker searched unsuccessfully for the fox, but at 7 p.m. Tuesday, a different truck driver at Grimmel ran over what wardens believe to be the same fox in the company’s parking area.
“We’re confident it was the same one — it was a sick-looking gray fox with porcupine quills in its face,” MacDonald said.
The fox was taken to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Augusta to be tested for rabies.
Sleeper was treated and released from Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
This time of year is when wardens interact the most with animals because they’re out during the day feeding their young, MacDonald said, “but actually getting bit is pretty rare.”
As of June 7, the CDC had confirmed three cases of rabies this year in towns surrounding Topsham: a raccoon in May and a skunk in April in Bowdoinham, and a raccoon in Lisbon in March.
On June 3, a Hope woman jogging near her home in Hope was attacked by a rabid raccoon that she ended up killing.