First Dam, the scene of one of the beaver's attacks. Credit: Jodi Kelly

ITHACA, N.Y.—A beaver who was allegedly involved in multiple biting incidents over the last few days has been captured and tested, revealing that the animal was suffering from rabies. The public has been advised to avoid the area of the attacks, which took place at First Dam and Mulholland Wildflower Preserve, while authorities investigate.

Tompkins County Whole Health’s Environmental Health Division made the announcement Tuesday after alerting the community to three separate incidents involving the animal over the weekend. The division and state officials are now investigating further.

“The public is advised to avoid the area while the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation searches for other beavers with signs of illness or aggression,” read the announcement.

Anyone or their pets who may have had contact with a beaver in that area during the last week, even if just walking a dog, must be located and interviewed, according to the Environmental Health Division (contact here).

While beavers with rabies are, evidently, not very collegial, the Environmental Health Divison stated that healthy beavers will “generally avoid all human contact and rarely approach humans,” barring someone entering their territory or coming near their offspring. Symptoms of rabies can include stumbling or balance difficulty, severe aggression (and on the other end, intense docility) and general illness.

The following guidelines are from the Environmental Health Division:

  1. Avoid contact with any unfamiliar cats or dogs and any wild animals.
  2. All cats, dogs and ferrets must have initial rabies vaccinations administered no later than four months of age. Keep vaccinations current.

3.   Report the following incidents to Environmental Health, 24/7, at 607-274-6688:

  • All animal bites or scratches.
  • Any human or pet contact with saliva or other potentially infectious material (brain tissue, spinal tissue, or cerebro-spinal fluid) of wild animals or any animal suspected of having rabies.
  • All bat bites, scratches, or any mere skin contact with a bat, or a bat in a room with a child, or sleeping or impaired person.

Matt Butler is the Editor in Chief of The Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at