This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 28 March, 2020

Wife of local councillor receives 20 stitches to face and body after being mauled by fox

Josie Hillis was attacked while trying to save a peahen from the marauding fox.

shutterstock_299422322 Source: Shutterstock/Miroslav Hlavko

THE WIFE OF a local Kildare councillor has received 20 stitches to her face and body after being attacked by a fox at her home.

Josie Hillis, wife of Dunstown councillor Billy Hillis, had just returned from visiting her husband in hospital, when the attack occurred.

Billy had been hospitalised in Tallaght after suffering heart complications, though he is now recovering well having had a pacemaker fitted.

FOX ATTACK 9171 Josie and Billy Hillis Source: Eamonn Farrell/

The Hillis family keep hens and pea fowl at their home – it was the couple’s last remaining peahen that had drawn the fox’s attention.


“I had called Billy to let him know I’d gotten home safely, and I heard the fox run by the window – I looked out and the hen was in distress,” Josie tells of the attack, which took place on 12 January.

I went out to deal with the fox, and normally they run like mad, but this one was far more aggressive.

The fox grabbed Josie by her trouser leg and dragged her to the ground before attacking her face, biting her about the cheek and mouth. Conscious that if she pulled away her face could be badly damaged, Josie reacted in an exceptionally calm manner.

FOX ATTACK 9187 Josie pointing out the scene where the fox attacked the peahen Source: Eamonn Farrell

“I know that you’re supposed to blow down a wild animal’s nose to get it to let go, so that is what I did, I put two fingers in his mouth and blew,” she says.

He let go for a moment and I managed to get to my feet, but then he grabbed me by the arm. I grabbed the stick I had brought with me to shoo him away and hitting him with that caused him to back away.

Josie managed to get back into the house to call her son Barry who arrived in short order with his wife to take her to hospital.

The fox had disappeared – leaving the peahen behind, barely alive.

Later, when Barry went outside to check on the hen it was gone – the fox had returned for its spoils.

FOX ATTACK 9195 Source: Eamonn Farrell/

Josie was taken to Naas hospital where she received stitches to her finger, arm, ear, and numerous others to the inside and outside of her mouth.

Human interaction

The fox in question had already killed the Hillis’ two other pea hens, who were kept as pets, in recent months.

“There’s a lot of families around the place who are looking for him,” says Josie. “But we haven’t caught him yet”.

She thinks that such an exceptionally aggressive attack is probably the product of human interaction with the foxes.

“We’re not too far from Dunstown Wood where this one is probably based. A lot of people think that they’re doing good by feeding them, but really they just get used to people rather than fearing us,” she says.

It’s especially a problem in built-up areas. He might have been a pet 12 months ago, or someone was keeping him and he got too aggressive so they let him go.

The search is ongoing for this fox. Josie may be scarred however, but she’s far from cowed by her experience.

It would take more than that to traumatise me.

Read: Man arrested after woman finds him in her home

Read: George Hook has a publisher for his erotic novel about a radio boss and a billionaire

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article

Read next: