DEP: Fox at NJ park found rabid not the one reported near people
BERKELEY — State wildlife officials said that a dead fox that tested positive for rabies after being found in Double Trouble State Park was not believed to be the same animal that had an "encounter" with visitors on Monday.
The park remained closed until further notice as of Thursday evening, according to the Department of Environmental Protection Divisions of State Park Service and Fish & Wildlife, who added "Protection of public health and safety is our first priority."
The dead fox found on Tuesday in another part of the park was a juvenile, and was believed to be different than the animal that was reported as having been close to several people and a dog.
"In addition, the Park Service and Fish & Wildlife have no information at this time that any visitors were bitten or scratched by fox at the park," a written updated to the division's Facebook page said.
Anyone with questions or concerns that they may have come into contact with the animal can contact State Park Police through the state Department of Environmental Protection’s hotline at 877-WARN-DEP (877-927-6337).
Lakewood fox bites reported
On Tuesday — more than 15 miles north of the state park — several families reported children being bitten by a fox at two separate locations about a mile apart in Lakewood.
A playground at John Street Park was the site of two different children being bitten, more than eight hours apart, according to Lakewood Police.
Police received reports that three other children were attacked while playing in a home's yard on Regal Court on Tuesday evening.
All parents were advised by police to seek medical attention for the children.
Vigilant around wildlife
Last summer, a fox that bit a child in Jackson was captured and then tested positive for rabies. The Ocean County Health Department received two additional reports of fox bites in that same neighborhood over the same two-day span in June 2021.
County health officials have urged residents to "remain vigilant, especially in the warmer months when the potential for wildlife interactions with humans increase."
"It can be very tempting to try and assist or approach a wild animal that may appear in distress, injured – or even uncommonly friendly. However, a person should call animal control or the police and never approach or make contact with a wild animal demonstrating those signs,” OCHD spokesman Daniel Regenye previously said.