The country’s largest rodents hadn’t made news in the D.C. area since a rogue beaver munched iconic Tidal Basin cherry trees in 1999. Then last week, rabid beavers attacked twice in four days in Fairfax County, mauling a swimmer and chasing children on a dock. Those attacks followed one in New York last month and three in Philadelphia last year. Are area beavers running amok?
Probably not, said Julia Murphy, Public Health Veterinarian for Virginia. She has not seen more rabies cases than usual this year. The East Coast, particularly the Mid-Atlantic region, does report more rabid animals than any other region in the country, but Murphy said that’s because we have the most people. Animals are usually tested only when there is reason to think people have been exposed to disease, and in large population centers, people and wild animals practically live on top of each other. No one notices a rabid animal who dies in a rural forest, but when one terrorizes kids in Springfield, it gets our attention. We kill it, test it, report it — and it becomes a statistic.

Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Virginia Center for Human-Wildlife Conflict Resolution, National Park Service | Bonnie Berkowitz and Patterson Clark/The Washington Post September 14, 2012
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