A rabid beaver in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area attacked a swimming Boy Scout leader last week, two hours after also attacking a canoeist, park officials said Monday.
The Boy Scout leader suffered 15 lacerations to his body in the attack, which took place Thursday, Gap spokeswoman Kathleen Sandt said.
"He said, out of nowhere something came up and bit him in the chest," Sandt said.
The Boy Scout leader told authorities he was bitten on his backside, his leg and arm by the frenzied beaver, all while he was swimming in the Delaware River with four teenaged scouts he brought from upstate New York.
The four scouts told rangers they were able to move the 40-something man to shore -- with the beaver clamped firmly to his arm.
"The scouts used everything, anything they could find around them, sticks, rocks," to loosen the beaver's bite on his arm, and finally killed the animal, Sandt said.
She said testing of the animal at a lab in Albany confirmed their suspicion of rabies, and the man said he would begin shot treatment at home.
Two hours earlier, Ruth Jones, 79, a self-described river rat, lifelong resident along the Delaware and founder of Kittatiny canoes, also encountered the animal.
Jones said she saw the beaver swimming toward her and then heard a thump on the bottom of her canoe.
"We paddled downriver further and we heard the thump again under our canoe," Jones said.
By now, she said they were paddling hard to get away from the beaver, suspecting it was rabid because its behavior was so unusual.
But the beaver was still following her canoe "and when I took a big stroke with my wooden paddle I hit the poor beaver as it was going under the canoe, not intentionally," Jones said.
The blow must have stunned it for the moment, as she said there were no more attacks until the Boy Scouts reported their incident two hours later.
Jones said she had never seen or heard of a wild-animal attack on a human like this in the recreation area.
Park officials confirm that there is no record of such an attack, though finding rabid animals in the wild is not all that unusual.
Nonetheless, with any wild animal, the Park Service's Sandt had this advice: "If it comes after you, you want to get away."
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