Red Fox Goes on Biting Spree in New Jersey Town, Killed by Police After Trying to Attack an Officer

A fox believed to be responsible for several bite attacks in a New Jersey town last week has been killed by officers tracking its movements, police say.

Glen Ridge police said on Monday the animal had been linked to five attacks, with three people seeking treatment at local hospitals after suffering "bite-related injuries." Officers responded to the area of Woodland Avenue last Friday morning to search for the red fox.

Police, working with Bloomfield Animal Control, found the fox at about 11:35 a.m. on NJ Transit railroad tracks near Toney's Brook, reported.

Authorities noted the fox did not respond well to being approached. Glen Ridge police said the animal had to be "euthanized" after it turned and tried to attack one of the officers. It was not immediately clear how it was killed. WKXW reported it had been shot dead.

The fox was taken by Bloomfield Animal Control and will be tested for rabies by experts at the New Jersey State Fish, Game and Wildlife Commission.

A family who live in the area told NBC News 4 they had encountered the fox last Thursday as the mother and her 10-year-old daughter were walking their dog. The pair ran back to their home and got the attention of the father, who said he had to chase the animal away.

The mother was cornered on the front porch and suffered a scratch in the unprovoked incident, NBC News 4 reported. "My wife felt the fox rub up against her leg and tried to get away from it, but every time she turned around to run it would chase her," the husband said.

The man, who was not identified, said the fox returned the next morning and attacked another resident. The five victims have not been named by law enforcement. Police said anyone with questions about animal behavior can call Fish & Game Control at 908-735-8793.

The state wildlife agency says healthy foxes "pose virtually no danger to humans" and "commonly live in close association with human residences and communities." Adult red foxes in New Jersey typically weigh about 12 to 13 pounds and often hunt in the evening.

It explains: "Foxes can grow accustomed to human activity but are seldom aggressive toward people. Expanding housing development, particularly in historically rural areas, increases the chances of interactions between humans and foxes, as well as other wildlife.

"Eliminating healthy foxes is not warranted based solely on human safety concerns. People uncomfortable with the presence of foxes should remove attractants, exclude foxes with fencing and employ scaring techniques. In many cases, homeowner's perceptions of problems are unfounded and in some cases, the mere presence of a fox is perceived as a problem."

Fish & Game Wildlife Control stresses that foxes that appear sick or are acting unusual should always be avoided as the species carries organisms linked to rabies. Symptoms that indicate the presence of the disease include unprovoked aggression and disorientation, it notes.

File photo: Aggressive fox. A fox believed to be responsible for several bite attacks in a New Jersey town last week has been killed by officers tracking its movements, police say. iStock