YORKTOWN, Va. (WAVY) — The hunt is on for a wild animal that attacked a woman in Yorktown.
Patsy Moss says what she thinks was a coyote attacked her Thursday afternoon — and it’s still on the loose.
Animal services says based on their description of height and length, it’s closer to a fox.
Her husband says this has traumatized her, and he doesn’t know when she will return outside.
Patsy’s railroad garden is meant to be her sanctuary, a place where she can be one with nature, but nature had something else in mind.
“It attacked her, and apparently, it had stalked her and snuck up behind her,” said Patsy’s husband Charlie. “It came up from the back out of nowhere and grabbed her ankle, and she started to try and fight it off, and it ended up biting her on her leg, ankle, her leg and her hand,” he added.
Patsy is spending some time away to heal. She has already had a few rounds of rabies shots.
“She tried to reach down and fend it off. She finally grabbed its muzzle and started dragging it toward the open yard, and when she saw it was being dragged out in the open, it let go and took off back down in the woods,” Charlie said.
The critter did not stay away for long. He was back when they got back from the emergency room.
“As we pulled into the driveway this animal came from the backyard, ran across in front the car and then over into the drainage ditch on the edge of our yard,” Charlie said.
A nearby neighbor even caught him on camera.
Animal services did initially respond and have been back since. Neither time were they able to locate the animal.
They say they cannot set a trap for it, because if it is rabid, it is not likely to go in the trap.
They say it’s in their best interest to cut down some of the plants and remove any bird seeds that may attract them so she can get back to working.
With two schools nearby and a growing community, neighbors say they feel unsafe.
“I was amazed it went after an adult. What about a kid? If they are going after someone your size they wouldn’t hesitate to go after something smaller,” said Jim Bohlken
Charlie says the animal acted like it was protecting something like a den, and that’s why it attacked.
There is still no sighting at this time, but if you have any questions about what to do if you are ever in this situation, take a look at these notes from the Virginia of Game and Inland Fisheries:
Seeing Furbearers on Your Property and Have Concerns?
· The mere presence of a fox, raccoon, coyote, or bobcat on your property is not necessarily a cause for alarm. These animals are not predatory toward humans and rarely pose a threat to pets.
· Foxes, raccoons, and coyotes can be seen during daylight hours, and daytime activity does not necessarily imply they are rabid, sick, or acting aggressively. Animals that are generally nocturnal can be active during the day, especially during the breeding season when they have to hunt longer to feed their young. Males looking for mates can also be more active during this period and travel longer distances.
· The months of March through July are the pup-rearing season, when foxes and coyotes raise their young. We often get phone calls this time of year with reports of “aggressive” individual animals standing their ground, growling, or hissing. This behavior indicates that a female is protecting her den and is letting you know to go away. The best thing to do is leave her alone and to notify others to keep a distance. Teach children to not approach, feed, or try to pet wildlife. Reinforce that these are wild animals and that they should remain that way. If at all possible, attempt to keep pets from chasing or harassing wildlife, as any wild animal in the act of defending itself could potentially cause harm.
· Often foxes and raccoons are unintentionally attracted to houses and properties due to unsecured trash cans, dumpsters, pet food left outside, fruit trees, and barbeque grills. These animals have keen senses of smell, and anything that smells like a potential food source could be an attractant, even across very long distances. It is the responsibility of the homeowner to assure that they are not attracting wildlife to their yard. Waste birdseed below feeders can attract squirrels and small rodents, which, in turn, can attract foxes or coyotes.
· Like humans and pets, wild animals can have a variety of naturally-occurring diseases. Sometimes the VDGIF tracks these diseases and responds, but in most cases, we do not. Many diseases are endemic (established within an area), and we know they exist, so no new information or benefit is gained by testing the animals. If you see a sick or injured animal, you can report it to the VDGIF to determine what actions may be warranted.
· Rabies is endemic to Virginia and is transmissible only between mammals. Although a very serious disease, it is important to note that modern-day treatment allows for up to 2-weeks after exposure to seek medical treatment that is 99.99% effective in preventing onset of the disease. Since 1995, there have been 43 human fatalities from rabies nationwide, almost all of which were associated with bat exposure. Only one case involved a fox and one case involved a raccoon. However, it is very important that any exposure of humans or pets to a potentially rabid animal should be immediately reported to the Virginia Department of Health. For more information please see the CDC’s Rabies website and the Virginia Department of Health’s Rabies website.
· It is important to note that, in Virginia, wildlife belongs to all citizens of the Commonwealth equally. It is not the property of the city, county, state government, or the VDGIF. When nuisance wildlife problems arise and removal is desired, it is up to the homeowner to seek help and fund removal of the problem animal(s).
· Local animal control agencies are authorized to handle nuisance wildlife calls, but do so at the discretion of local government. Most animal control departments only have adequate personnel to deal with domestic animal issues (i.e. dogs and cats). Please check with your local animal control office to determine its ability to assist you.
· Most wildlife nuisance technical assistance provided by the VDGIF is via telephone conversations or e-mail correspondence. When nuisance animal issues arise, we rely on liberal regulations that allow citizens in towns and cities to address problems themselves. If a person is unable to handle the situation, a network of licensed nuisance animal trappers exists within the Commonwealth and can be contacted by homeowners to assist with wildlife removal. For a list of licensed private trappers in your area, please consult the Nuisance Wildlife Trappers list. There are also numerous commercial animal trapping services throughout the Commonwealth. Please consult your phone directory to locate one.