Saturday, February 4th, 2023
Saturday, February 4th, 2023

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PA: No more attacks by rabid Philly beavers

Philadelphia – It appears that the series of beaver attacks
here, labeled as bizarre by a Pennsylvania Game Commission
spokesman, may be over.

By this issue’s deadline there had been no more incidents with
beavers at Pennypack Park, although the Game Commission continued
to advise residents to avoid the Pennypack Creek waterfront area
between Bustleton Avenue and Roosevelt Boulevard in the northeast
part of the city.

Three people have undergone rabies treatments after being bitten by
a beaver in early June, and a park ranger captured a beaver
believed to be involved in both the attacks.

The animal was euthanized by a Game Commission officer, and it
tested positive for rabies. A necropsy of the beaver indicated it
was involved in both recent incidents, according to Game Commission
press secretary Jerry Feaser.

“It seems likely that it was the same beaver in both incidents,” he
said. “They occurred in a few block area.”

The rabid beaver was captured 500 yards from where the first
incident took place, Feaser noted.

“A necropsy showed the animal had blunt-force injuries that were
consistent with reports that the victims of the first incident used
a rock to drive off the attacking animal, hitting it in the

“Although we hope and believe that there was just one beaver
involved in these attacks, we have advised people to stay away from
Pennypack Creek in this area, and we are working with local
officials to be sure there are no more rabid animals there,” Feaser

“Because, as always when you are dealing with rabies, you worry
about there being a second or third animal that is infected.

“With a little luck this incident is over and it only involved one
beaver, but we don’t know that for sure, so people should be on
their guard in that area for awhile at least.”

Test results were provided to the Game Commission by the state
Department of Health’s Bureau of Laboratories in Exton, Chester
County. The beaver carcass was tested by the University of
Pennsylvania’s New Bolton Center, Kennett Square, Chester

The necropsy was also conducted at New Bolton.

On June 1, a husband and wife were fishing in Pennypack Creek – a
stocked trout stream – near Bustleton Avenue when a large beaver
bit the woman’s leg.

As her husband attempted to assist her, the beaver turned and bit
him in both arms and chest.

Game Commission Wildlife Conservation Officer Jerry Czech, who
serves Philadelphia and parts of Delaware County, went to the
hospital and interviewed the two victims.

On June 2, in the area of Roosevelt Boulevard, a child was bitten
by a beaver. While at the hospital to interview the victim’s
family, officer Czech received word that a Fairmount Park ranger
had captured a beaver 500 yards from where the child was

Czech responded to the scene and put the animal down and
transported it to the New Bolton Center.

Czech, other Game Commission officers and USDA Wildlife Services
personnel have searched for other beavers in the vicinity.

The most recent beaver attacks follow a similar incident in late
April when a rabid beaver was found near White Clay Creek area of
Chester County.

According to Keith Mullin, a commission wildlife conservation
officer in that incident, a local angler heard a splash behind him
and turned to see a beaver swimming toward him.

“The beaver bit the angler on the back of his leg and attempted to
come at him again,” Mullin said. “The fisherman was able to drown
the beaver after quite a struggle and suffered another bite on his

“I met him at the site to retrieve the carcass, which was then
submitted for rabies testing and, unfortunately, it came back

Rabies is a viral disease affecting the nervous system, usually
transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected animal,
according to Walt Cottrell, Game Commission wildlife

According to the state Health Department, rabies continues to be a
significant public health problem in the commonwealth. Since the
year 2000, between 350 and 500 animals are annually confirmed in
the laboratory to have rabies.

“While an animal with rabies may exhibit abnormal or aggressive
behavior, this is not always the case,” said Cottrell.

“If bitten by any animal, the first step in rabies prevention is to
immediately wash the wound and then promptly seek medical

If the circumstances of the exposure warrant, human rabies vaccine
may be prescribed, Cottrell noted.

The last human rabies fatality in Pennsylvania was a 12-year-old
Lycoming County boy in 1984.

The commission urges that any human contact with beavers or other
mammals in the Pennypack Creek area be reported by calling the
agency at (610) 926-3136.

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