'Danger in the park'

Monique Chiasson
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Truro womans leisurely stroll in victoria park turns into a nightmare

'Danger in the park'

TRURO - Donna Newlands' nightly dreams and bruised body is a reminder that a leisurely walk in Victoria Park may not always be the safest venture.
The 66-year-old Truro resident was attacked by what she believes were two fishers as she was walking in the park last Monday about 9:30 a.m.
Newlands, an animal lover by nature, walks by herself numerous times a week but last Monday's walk provided an unwelcome adventure.
She walked along the Vibert trail and the Hemlock trail extension near the bottom of Serpentine Drive. That's when she spotted the first animal.
"About 20 feet away in the woods ... he just stopped, looked at me like he was sizing me up," she said of the creative that was about the size of a house cat.
Newlands continued walking and about a minute later she saw another, smaller one coming out of a ditch.
"It came right out to me and swung around to my back," said Newlands. Fearing being bitten, she turned around and hit the animal with her metal walking stick before falling backward into the ditch.
Newlands said it was then the animal jumped on her and began clawing at her right leg and arm and biting her fingers on her left hand.
"It had more teeth than any animal I've ever seen ... all I could think of was a creature out of a Steven King novel," said Newlands, who then grabbed the animal by the neck and "flung him" off.
"It was only a few minutes but it felt like eternity ... it was terrifying. I (keep) dreaming about it and wake up having that frightened feeling."
Newlands sought treatment for rabies, receiving 12 needles "in every site that was scratched or bitten."
She said the Department of Natural Resources was called and, according to Newlands, was told by a DNR representative that it's believed there is a fisher colony in the park and a live animal trap will be set. Calls to the DNR were not returned to the Truro Daily News by press time.
Truro's director of parks, recreation and culture, Doug MacKenzie, said his staff has been in contact with the Department of Natural Resources and that live traps have been set in park.
Newlands said she wants the public to know although the park is a "wonderful" place for walking, people must take caution.
"I won't go up for awhile ... I'm timid now. I want people to know there can be danger in the park," she said, especially for pets and curious children interested in looking closer at nature and unfamiliar animals.

mchiasson@trurodaily.com

Organizations: Department of Natural Resources, Truro Daily News

Geographic location: Victoria Park

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Recent comments

  • Donna
    January 18, 2010 - 10:12

    I have walked in Victoria Park many, many times in the past six years. I expect and enjoy seeing the wild animals, and have seen deer, mice, rabbits, birds, and insects in abundance. I had no reason to be frightened or cautious because none of the literature I have read on Victoria Park mentioned 'fishers that might attack humans'. Neither have I seen any signs posted to warn people of possibel danger. When I heard or read nothing after a week, I contacted the newspaper just so people will be aware of a possible danger. The bites and scratches I received were not serious and are healing quickly, but ask yourself, would a child or dog be so fortunate? To me, Mr. Morse, your sarcasm borders ridiculous. I stand by my choice to warn the public. Forewarned is forearmed.

    By the way, I also would not want to see a child have to go through the series of rabies' shots that is necessary should they be attacked.

  • Gail
    January 18, 2010 - 10:09

    That is an unfortunate happening, but nature is nature; it could happen on any trail. Carrying a stick might be a good idea when walking in parks or on trails.

  • wonder why
    January 18, 2010 - 10:05

    There are a lot of things that goes on around Truro that never make it to the attention of the people. Everything has to be kept hush hush! So it doesn't suprise me that it didn't make it in the news until you contacted them Donna! Im just glad you are ok! And thank you for letting us other people of Truro know what happened at the park.

  • Roger
    January 18, 2010 - 09:58

    The suggestion that something should have been done to eliminate a possible colony of fishers in Victoria Park before they could attack someone is unbelievable. Victoria Park is beautiful. The very existance of all the natural beauty within the park; the animals, birds, trees, water features is what makes the park such a wonderful place. Why not strip out all the trees. Who knows, one might fall on someone. God forbid someone being hurt walking along the natural trails. Perhaps they could fall into the water. Lets drain the streams. The attack was unfortunate, and now that it has occured, it is appropriate to trap and relocate the fishers. But to eliminate them before hand. Nonscence

  • AJ
    January 18, 2010 - 09:55

    Roger Morse, normally I'd agree with you 100%. But we're talking about animals that are dangerous here. What if a small kid is hurt next?

    Don't kill the animals, of course, but trap and relocate them to a more suitable habitat.

    Human safety is more important than anything else, in the end.

  • tombilly
    January 18, 2010 - 09:47

    Would just like to say that Roger Morse from Onslow Mtn hit it right on the mark.
    Why don't we start eliminating foolish comments before they get read while we're at it wonder why . Let me guess, your idea of a nature walk is a stroll around Kiwanis Pond right?

  • Lisa
    January 18, 2010 - 09:47

    ROGER MORSE - Seriously, obviously these animals are not safe maybe you would have liked to have been the one attacked! Then lets see if you have a different opinion. Heart goes out to the lady that was attacked.

  • mike
    January 18, 2010 - 09:46

    now its a problem because someone got hurt,people only complain after someone gets hurt,its like staying i dont care about cancer,but then you get cancer and its like lets do a charity events.when you didnt have cancer you didn't care to hear about. these HOUSE CATS WHERE THERE BEFORE SHE GOT HURT.why didn't all you people(LIL LISA)complain about the HOUSE CATS before and this lady wouldn't of got hurt.

  • Teddybear
    January 18, 2010 - 09:45

    It is unusual for a fisher to attack a human. Size alone is a deterant. Perhaps the whack given to the little creature with the cane ticked it off and then when the woman fell down it seized the opportunity to seek revenge. Other than that it may be infected with rabies. I once had a snowshoe rabbit (hare) come straight at me from under a brush pile. The rabbit was making snarling noises as it hopped toward me. Fortunately I had my gun with me so I shot it. Not allowed to carry guns in the park though. But if the animals go on a Steven King movie attack it might be an option for my next walk :)

  • wonder why
    January 18, 2010 - 09:42

    My first question is if they knew there was a colon in the park why was it not taken care of before this. Why does it always take someone getting hurt before something is done?

  • jo
    January 18, 2010 - 09:42

    a Steven King novel,what could we call it,i know RETURN OF THE HOUSE CAT

  • Mary
    January 18, 2010 - 09:39

    Thank You Donna Newlands.

  • curtis
    January 18, 2010 - 09:38

    I am sorry to hear that this senior was injured and although I admire her independence, I question her choices in venturing into the park's trail system alone. Victoria Park is a beautiful place and we are fortunate as a community to have it but it IS 600 acres of WILDERNESS within the town's limits. If you choose to go into the woods alone you should be prepared for encounters with the natural inhabitants of the area. Fishers have been in the park for some time people.My home borders the park and I have witnessed them as well as racoons with 'distemper', deer with ticks and hey there are even bear in Victoria Park. My point is the fishers have a right to be there and we should not be naive in venturing into the trail system of the park.You are really venturing into the woods and you should be prepared or stay closer to a more urban setting for your daily exercise. Use some caution too around Kiwanis Park as last weekend I witnessed a muskrat there as well as a hooded merganser ;)