A HUNT supporter has told of her horror after a fox mauled her arm in what she believes is a "revenge" attack.
Deborah Adams, 46, was left needing plastic surgery and skin grafts after the incident on Sunday last week – her birthday.
Mrs Adams, who took part in the Four Burrow Hunt in St Columb on New Year's Day, was left "shaking and bleeding" following the unprovoked incident in broad daylight.
The housewife and mother of four was driving her Peugeot 206 from her Fraddon home to Mawgan Porth to tend to her horse when the incident happened at around 10am.
She said: "I drove out of Gluvian Farm and saw the fox in the middle of a single track road, which is very bendy.
"I flashed my lights and the fox didn't move, which I thought was strange.
"So I edged closer and it still didn't move.
"I beeped the horn, which I was sure would make the fox run off, but it still stayed there.
"I got out of my car and approached the fox to make sure it was still alive, which it was. But then it leapt at my outstretched arm as I was shooing it away."
The fox clamped onto Mrs Adams's left arm, just below her elbow, and ripped off a chunk of flesh about the width of a two-pence coin and about an inch deep.
"I didn't expect it to bite me," she said, "I was trying to do it no harm and was concerned about its health.
"After it bit me, it ran off. I returned to my car and called my husband Michael. I just wanted to get home but had to drive back."
After seeing his wife in a distressed state, Mr Adams took her to Newquay Hospital at around 10.45am.
Doctors told her she was to return to the hospital every day to have the wound assessed and her dressings changed.
But, two days later, after the wound had not healed, she was referred to the Royal Cornwall Hospital, Treliske, Truro, to see a plastic surgeon and underwent four hours of surgery on Thursday.
She said: "Doctors took away more flesh, which had got infected, and then said I would require a skin graft after I returned to see specialists on Saturday.
"The graft will cover the wound. But it will take months to heal over. The infection has to clear up first.
"Doctors suggested maybe the fox had been struck by a car and was dazed, which is why it was in the road and reacted in the way it did.
"I, however, wonder if it was a fox that recognised me from the hunt I took part in around that area on New Year's Day and was getting revenge."
John Bryant, a pest control specialist who specialises in foxes, said the attack on Mrs Adams seemed out of character for the animals.
"In my 40 years of working with foxes I have never seen one behave in a vicious way, unless it was defending itself," he said.
"The animal was, in my opinion, showing clear signs that it could have been diseased or concussed. And this could explain why it reacted the way it did.
"If a wild animal doesn't behave in the way you would expect it to when you flash your lights, beep your horn, or even approach it – don't get near to it.
"The attack is a freak occurrence."