A backpacker on the Arizona Trail near Kentucky Camp, off of the Fish Canyon road was bitten in the face while sleeping Thursday morning, March 5, according to AZ game and Fish (AZGF). The backpacker, who was an off-duty EMT, according to Mark Hart, spokesman for AZGF, killed the skunk, which later tested positive for rabies. The Green Valley News reported that the bite victim continued on his hike, “knowing that he had been inoculated in the past.” 

Note from local wildlife manager Brittany Olesen for hiker. Contributed photo.

When notified about this incident, local wildlife manager Brittany Oleson posted notes for the hiker along his intended route warning him that he needed to get help immediately. “By the time I caught up with him he was up at the road to Fain Lake, northeast of Mt. Fagan,” she said. 

“We have had several skunks in our area test positive already. Karina Hilliard, (Patagonia Animal Control Officer) has been quite busy with them. It’s nothing to be alarmed about,” Oleson added. “Santa Cruz County is usually number one in the state for rabies But it is something to keep in mind. Keep all pets vaccinated, indoors if possible (especially while unattended), and be alert for skunks, foxes, etc, that may be acting strangely. Seeing one out in the daytime is NOT in and of itself a cause for concern any more than seeing a human out in the nighttime. If it’s stumbling, listing, or pursuing you…then you probably have a problem!”

Contact AZGFD at 623-236-7201 or Patagonia Animal Control at 520-394-2091 to report any sightings of potentially rabid animals.

Note from Brittany Oleson, contributed photo