UPDATE: Fox tests positive for rabies after biting person at Sabino Canyon

Victim got rabies treatment

Man bitten by rabid animal on run

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Two animals attacked people at Sabino Canyon and the Santa Ritas on Thursday, March 5.

A fox bit a person at Sabino Canyon and a skunk bit a person in the Santa Ritas, according to Arizona Game and Fish. The animals were both killed by the victims and officials with the Arizona Game and Fish Department confirmed both animals tested positive for rabies.

This file photo shows a skunk casually strolling on a path. A fox bit a person at Sabino Canyon and a skunk bit a person in the Santa Ritas in southern Arizona in February and March 2020.
This file photo shows a skunk casually strolling on a path. A fox bit a person at Sabino Canyon and a skunk bit a person in the Santa Ritas in southern Arizona in February and March 2020. (Source: AZ Game and Fish)

The first attack happened Feb. 18. Officials with AZGFD said it’s likely the animal had been fed by people before, which is why it was so comfortable around folks.

The second attack happened March 6, when Steve Greenwell was out for his normal run.

Halfway up the trail, Greenwell had an unexpected run-in with the fox. The animal crossed his path an did intend on letting him by, he said.

“He basically just bee-lined toward me,” Greenwell said. “My fight-or-flight kicked in. I first ran but he ran after me. He started nipping at me so flight became fight and I was kicking at him to kind of keep him off me," Greenwell said.

The kicks only kept the fox at bay for a few moments.

“He didn’t back off he just kept coming,” Greenwell said. “Eventually, I had to kill him with a big rock.”

Evidence of the encounter is still on his leg where the fox bit him, something AZGFD officials said is completely out of the ordinary.

“It’s not normal at all for a fox to be running after someone, which was the first indicator to the runner that something might be amiss,” Game and Fish spokesman Mark Hart said.

In both attacks, the animals acted boldly, indicating they could be rabid.

“If a wild animal is coming close to you, something’s wrong,” Hart said. “Don’t get near a dead animal, don’t let your pets near a dead animal and, certainly, don’t handle it.”

After trip to the emergency department and a few shots, Greenwell felt ready to run the next day.

Foxes, skunks and bats are the most common animals to carry rabies, according to the AZ Game and Fish, who reminded the public to avoid contact with animals and to call 623-236-7201 if needed.

Copyright 2020 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.