Sick fox alert in Burlington County

August 6, 2008 8:50:46 PM PDT
Over the two weeks, a sickly fox has been causing nervous reactions in a residential community of Mount Laurel, New Jersey. One look at the animal and you'll understand why. "People are worried...they have small kids...and little dogs around the neighborhood and people are worried it may attack somebody," said Sean Donahue of Mt. Laurel.

He is one of the dozen or so people who've seen the emaciated and sickly fox roaming the Countryside Farms neighborhood in Mt. Laurel. He spotted it this morning.

"I saw something out of the corner of my eye, and there was a fox standing right behind me, about 15 to 20 feet on the sidewalk."

Residents are concerned the fox may have rabies.

Betsy Turgeon worries about her two small dogs and her young children. She says she contacted Burlington County animal control and the State Department of Fish and Wildlife, but they told her to contact police.

"The only thing I could get from the police department is to stay indoors. Their hands are tied. So no one is doing anything...no not at all," she said.

Lori Swanson is with the Woodford Cedar Run Wildlife Refuge in Medford. The refuge houses injured foxes. We showed her a picture of the sickly looking fox. She suspects it has mange.

"I wouldn't say it's a danger to kids but they should be careful to make sure their kids are not going near it in general," she said.

Swanson says the real concern is that the parasitical disease is contagious to household pets and even deadly. But it is curable. "It's not really contagious to humans. It will live on humans for awhile but we don't have enough hair on us to support the cycle."

An officer with Burlington County Animal Control says the fox probably does have mange, but state rules and regulations prevent him for doing anything until a last resort. When asked what that is, he said when it can't walk anymore. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has not returned our calls.

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