A girl was bitten by a rabid beaver while swimming at the north end of Lake Lanier outside of Atlanta on July 8, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and local news sources. The girl’s father came to her rescue and beat the beaver to death.
Upon the agency’s request, the dead beaver was obtained by Hall County Animal Control for testing, then shipped to Georgia’s Public Head Lab, which tested the animal and discovered it was positive for rabies. The condition of the young girl and her name were not made available to the public.
“There was nothing to indicate that there were baby beavers in the vicinity that were being protected, or that the beaver was sick, or whether it was just an otherwise angry beaver,” said DNR Lt. Judd Smith.
One recent Facebook report stated that two people had encountered a rabid beaver in the same general Sardis area of Georgia. But no one was reported bitten by the animal.
While beaver attacks on humans are rare, they aren’t unheard of. In most cases the animal attacks to protect its young or its lodge, or—as in this case—because it’s rabid.
At least one fatal attack on a human by a beaver has been reported. In 2013, a 60-year-old fisherman in Belarus died after a beaver bit his leg and severed an artery and a snorkeler in Nova Scotia was bitten by a beaver in 2014. In 2012, a Pennsylvania Boy Scout leader was attacked by a beaver (in that particular beaver attack, the man’s troop came to his defense and stoned the critter to death).
Karen Bond detailed in a Facebook post how she was attacked by a beaver in 2016 while swimming in the Quinnebaug River in eastern Connecticut. Her report is accompanied by gruesome photos resulting from the attack.
“I shoved my hand in its mouth to get it to release me and tore the ligament in my thumb,” she writes. “I had no idea what it was while screaming bloody murder until Gahrett Bond jumped in and unclamped its jaw from me and pushed me away. While he was swimming away it grabbed his leg and he was bit. We did not provoke this beaver, we had no idea it was there because he attacked underwater. We did nothing to this beaver. But they do attack viciously.”