Woman attacked by raccoon while gardening

A Leelanau County woman is recovering from a raccoon attack.

A Leelanau County woman is recovering from a raccoon attack.

It happened around 11 a.m. Thursday at a home on 2500 block of South Pineview Road in Suttons Bay Township.

Barbara White, 61, was working in her garden when she saw movement and turned to see a raccoon running at her from the woods. She tried to kick the raccoon off her but it started biting.

Barbara's husband, Don, was able to grab a gun.

"I was very fearful for my wife's sake because I realized when she had a raccoon bite that drew blood she'd have to go through rabies shots if I didn't find him," said Don.

After grabbing the gun, Don said the raccoon started coming after him when he stepped off the porch. He was able to shoot the animal.

Barbara was bit several times. She was taken to the hospital where doctors dressed the wounds, gave her antibiotics and a tetanus shot.

The raccoon was taken to a local veterinarian where it will be sent to the state health department for rabies testing.

Don said they checked if the raccoon had signs of nursing to see if they should be looking for babies in the area, but it wasn't.

"I've learned a lot about raccoons in the past 24 hours," laughed Don. "It looked healthy but had an attitude problem and had decided this was going to be his territory but I had to remind him I pay the property taxes."

The Whites have lived in the home for 28 years and in the Suttons Bay area for 35. Don said while they've seen plenty of wildlife, they have never experienced something like this.

"I'm glad for her sake we got the animal so it could be tested. She's had to deal with enough, it was a strange situation."

The raccoon attack is drawing a lot of attention to the quiet neighborhood.

"My wife scolded me to not make it my story because I talk a lot," joked Don.

With the home being in a wooded area, wildlife officials say an attack like this is highly unusual.

Officer Wayne Kalchik, with the Leelanau County Animal Control said it's hard to determine at this point why the animal was aggressive and officials are following the

protocol for rabies

testing through the

Michigan Department of Community Health


Steve Griffith, a Wildlife Biologist with the Department of Natural Resources, said any wild animal is going to defend itself if cornered or threatened, but with this attack being in a wooded area with open space, that doesn't seem to be the case. Griffith added another possible cause of aggression could be if the raccoon had babies nearby.

With this attack being so unusual for healthy animals, officials said rabies is a concern.

"One of the effects of rabies is animals will lose their natural fear of people and they can be aggressive," said Griffith. "There are other disease or injuries that could cause that as well, but it's not normal behavior."ã??