At least three people have been victims of unprovoked attacks by a gray squirrel on a street in Bennington, Vt., over the past few weeks, leaving many residents of the formerly placid southeastern Vermont town wondering if they might be next.
Bennington Banner reporter Keith Whitcomb, Jr., interviewed East St. resident and squirrel-mauling victim Kevin McDonald, who said he was shoveling snow outside of his house, when he felt the animal's razor-sharp claws tearing into his back and shoulders. McDonald managed fend off the squirrel and flee into his house, but not before the the ill-tempered rodent lunged at him twice more.
The following day, McDonald saw his neighbor across the street battling the squirrel with a metal pole and a blanket. Later that day, he learned of another woman on his street that, like he, had been attacked from behind. That woman is being treated for rabies.
The Associated Press quotes Vermont Public Health Veterinarian Robert Johnson, who said that there has never been a case of a squirrel passing rabies to a human. Instead, Johnson speculates that the squirrel was tamed by humans.
"They've lost their fear of people and they go ballistic (when they encounter a person) because it's not their human," Johnson told the AP.