Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

Woman strangles attacking fox

Rachel Cohen after the attack (Pocono Record photo)

Desperate times can call for some highly desperate measures.

When attacked by a fox near her home, Rachel Cohen did what she had to do — she strangled her attacker with her bare hands. And no, she’s not the blood-and-guts type. Before her encounter with the fox, she’d never before killed an animal of any kind.

Now the Stroudsburg, Pa., resident must wait to learn whether the fox was rabid. Authorities suspect it was. If so, Cohen will need to undergo treatment for the disease.

The Pocono Record has Cohen’s full story.

Hat tip: J.R. Absher at The Outdoor Pressroom.

Cute baby skunk turns up rabid

Robert Barber/Painet Inc.

A Des Moines, Iowa, family is feeling the pain of adopting a cuddly little baby skunk.


The skunk, it turned out, had rabies. All five family members are now undergoing a painful regimen of shots to keep them from contracting the disease. So are six friends and members of the extended family. More than 20 others are being tested. The family dog will have to be euthanized, or must be quarantined for six months.

KCCI-TV in Des Moines has the complete story.

Moral of story: Leave young wildlife alone!

Hat tip: J.R. Absher at The Outdoor Pressroom.

A W.Va. deer with a mysterious condition

Courtesy of Goose & Mindy Stewart

Goose and Mindi Stewart of Orgas, in Boone County, sent the accompanying photo to me. Taken on Goose’s “game-cam,” it shows a white-tailed doe covered with what appear to be dark-colored tumors. The Stewarts wanted to know what caused the doe to look like that.

I didn’t know, and I referred them to Jim Crum of the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. Jim has a Ph.D. in wildlife diseases, and is the state’s deer project leader.

No word as of yet. I’ll keep you posted.

W.Va. expands CWD containment zone

NY Dept. of Env. Conservation

West Virginia wildlife authorities recently expanded the size of its “chronic wasting disease containment zone” in Hampshire County.

The zone originally included only the portion of the county north of U.S. Route 50. Now it includes the entire county.

Paul Johansen, assistant wildlife chief for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, said the expansion became necessary after deer killed by hunters outside the containment zone in 2009 tested positiive for CWD.

This fall, hunters in the entire county will be subject to special regulations put in place for hunting within the containment zone. To legally tranport a deer carcass past the county’s borders, hunters must:

  • Bone out the meat, or
  • Make sure a quartered carcass contains no part of the spinal column or head;
  • Make sure any taxidermist-bound hides are cleaned and have no heads attached;
  • Clean any skull plates so that no meat or tissue remains attached; or
  • Have the deer mounted before taking it home.

White nose syndrome spreads to Smokies

Bats with white nose syndrome
Bats with white nose syndrome

Uh-oh. This is not good.

The fungus that causes white nose syndrome, a condition that has killed millions of bats from New York to West Virginia, has now been found in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

The cave where the fungus was found is Tennessee’s largest hibernation center for the endangered Indiana bat.

The Maryville, Tenn., Daily Times has the full story.

W.Va. DNR finds 16 more CWD-positive deer

The news from West Virginia’s Hampshire County isn’t good.

Tests of tissue samples extracted from more than 1,000 hunter-killed whitetails revealed 16 additional cases of chronic wasting disease.The 16 cases represent the most ever turned up in a single DNR sampling effort. The previous high was 11, turned up in the spring of 2008 by Division of Natural Resources sharpshooters.

Even worse, three of the deer were killed outside the “CWD Containment Zone” established by the DNR.

Wildlife officials said they would consider expanding the containment zone. A decision could come within weeks.

Scientists to study hemorrhagic diseases in deer

ehddeer.jpegSorry for the alphabet-soup post, but this is important. Scientists at the Georgia-based Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study (SCWDS) have teamed up with the Safari Club International Foundation (SCIF) and the folks at Mossy Oak (sorry, no acronym) to study why hemorrhagic diseases such as epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) and blue-tongue viruses (BTV) have become so common.

For the full story, check out page 3 of SCWDS’ most recent newsletter (It’s a .PDF file).

The research could ultimately affect hunting here in West Virginia, a state where EHD has been known to strike. In 2007, if you’ll remember, the state lost an estimated 20,000 whitetails to the disease.

Greenbrier rabies rate causes concern

skunks.jpgPublic health officials want to know why rabies is more prevalent in West Virginia’s Greenbrier County than in surrounding counties.

Two skunks found dead near Williamsburg tested positive for the virus. The discovery brought to 26 the number of rabies cases in the county during the past year. Surrounding counties in West Virginia and southwestern Virginia reported single-digit numbers of cases during that same time period.

Greenbrier County commissioner Karan Lobban wants baits infused with rabies vaccine to be dropped throughout the county. The U.S. Department of Agriculture dropped the same sort of baits across central West Virginia years ago in an attempt to halt the spread of raccoon rabies.

CWD found in seven more W.Va. deer

spikebuck.jpgFrom a DNR news release dated yesterday:

Test results have detected the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) agent in a total of seven white-tailed deer sampled during the 2009 spring collections in Hampshire County, according to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
These most recent deer testing positive for CWD were collected by Wildlife Resources Section personnel working in cooperation with landowners, and they were all within the Hampshire County CWD Containment Area (i.e., that portion of Hampshire County located north of U.S. Route 50). 

Paul Johansen, the DNR’s assistant wildlife chief, said the CWD-positive findings were about what agency biologists had expected.       

W.Va.’s CWD team earns award

spikebuck.jpgCongratulations to the West Virginia DNR’s Chronic Wasting Disease Response Team.

The Northeastern Section of the Wildlife Society — essentially an organization of wildlife biologists — recently honored the team for its work in combating Hampshire County’s CWD outbreak.

Four DNR employees form the team’s nucleus: Deer project leader Jim Crum, district biologist Rich Rogers, assistant district biologist Al Niederberger, and wildlife manager Travis Metcalf.

See the full story in my Sunday Gazette-Mail column.