Rabid Bear Killed in Western Albemarle

A couple of guys fended off a rabid black bear at Royal Orchard Farm on Tuesday, NBC-29 reports. (The Progress has a somewhat longer story.) The men were in a Gator—a small, open utility vehicle—when the bear attacked the vehicle, and then came after then. Armed with a shotgun loaded with birdshot, reasonably enough during spring turkey season, one of them shot the bear point-blank in the head. Said noggin was sent off to a state lab, where it was confirmed that the bear had rabies.

Royal Orchard is the farm of the Scott family (as in Scott Stadium), located just off 64 on the way up to Afton. When driving up the long, slow grade to Rockfish Gap, at one point a bridge goes over the interstate at a crazy angle. That’s Royal Orchard Drive, a road that exists solely to connect their farm to Route 250. The house is an honest-to-God castle. The Shenandoah National Park was built around the estate, because the family had the money and the political power to keep the federal government from seizing their land and from building Skyline Drive within their viewshed.

16 thoughts on “Rabid Bear Killed in Western Albemarle”

  1. This is just another example of the 1% getting exclusive privileges: private bridges, personal access to national parks, and elitist rabid bears.

  2. The original plan for SNP was twice or three times as large, reaching to Crozet, for example. A lot worse injustices happened than Scott’s Castle. In the end even the guy who came up with the idea lost his property.

    At the time, the SNP dispossessions were a sensational, ongoing newspaper story, but then not much written about until the 1990s or so.

    As far as boundaries go, what generally happened was that the ridges stayed in the park, and the more valuable valleys and hollows were excluded. Residents of the ridges – the main longitudinal ridges and the little cross-ridges – were more likely to be tenants or owners without good titles. Look at the map, fill the jagged boundaries, and you have the original plan for the park.

  3. Wow, that is scary. It’s common to encounter bears when hiking in the Blue Ridge, but in my experience they usually run in the other direction or, if far enough away, stand their ground or amble off. But with a rabid animal all bets are off. According to this VGDIF story, this is the first black bear in Virginia ever diagnosed with rabies:


    (re Royal Orchard, I accidentally ended up in this clearing


    one time when I got off the AT in that vicinity. Was a mighty pretty view from there.)

  4. I do not like AT ALL this story about rabid bears. My son spends one day a week outdoors in the SNP at the Living Earth School. I do not like hearing about rabid bears. At all.

  5. I’d guess that the odds of being bitten by a rabid bear in the SNP are about 1/1000 of the odds of getting in a traffic accident on the way to or from there, and that’s probably a generous estimate.

  6. I know that you’re right, David Sewell, and that’s what I’ll mutter to myself the whole time I drive him there….

  7. There are bears in my urban ring neighborhood and I do not like hearing about rabid bears at all, either. I am glad the guys had a gun- something I may have never written before.

  8. I was having a rapid beer,
    When I heard about the rabid bear.
    Or maybe, what I did hear
    Was the hare, or rabbit, was bare;
    I barely can hear through my beer.

  9. Its much more likely to encounter a rabid skunk, fox, or raccoon than a bear, as these creatures are not uncommon even in mre urban areas. Not to mention all the feral cats, believe someone was attacked by a rabid feral cat a few years ago.
    Vaccinate your pets and don’t attempt to approach or touch wildlife.

  10. I heard this story on SoundBoard on Friday — I may be misquoting the statistics here, but I believe I recall hearing that it’s the first-ever instance of a rabid bear on record (in the state, presumably?) and only the second-ever instance of rabies in VA in the past year.

    Put simply, the odds of getting attacked by a rabid bear are not high. It certainly must have come as something of a surprise, I’d imagine.

  11. “only the second-ever instance of rabies in VA in the past year”–I think that can’t be right. According to the CDC, in 2010 there were 591 cases of rabies (all animals, domestic and wild). It does not appear that 2010 was an unusually rich year for rabies in VA. So I’m thinking that even though it’s only April, there must be more than two cases so far.

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