On May 3, a Gila National Forest visitor was bitten by a fox near Carbonate Creek drainage on a forest road two miles northwest of Kingston. After the attack, the visitor reported it to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, which collected the fox for testing.

On May 4, the fox tested positive for rabies and was held for additional analysis.

Rabies is a fatal but preventable viral disease. It can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal. In the United States, rabies is mostly found in wild animals like bats, raccoons, skunks and foxes.

Therefore, visitors are asked to keep their distance from foxes or any animal exhibiting odd and erratic behavior in the forest. Should folks encounter animals displaying “excessively wobbly or circling” type behavior, do not approach the animal. If you find a dead animal do not touch it.

The U.S. Forest Service also recommends visitors keep their dog on a leash while hiking in the forest so that it doesn’t chase any wildlife or have a possible encounter with wildlife.

“Safety is a core value of our agency,” said Michael Hutchins, district ranger of the Black Range District. “With our partners’ help, we want every visitor to feel safe and have an enjoyable experience while in the forest.”

Report all sightings to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish at 505-532-2100 or the New Mexico State Health Department at 505-827-0006.