A rabid beaver approached young children at a nature center in Fairfax County over the weekend, officials said, just days after another rabid beaver bit an 83-year-old woman in a Fairfax lake.

About 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Fairfax County Animal Control officers went to Hidden Pond Nature Center in Springfield. The incident occurred during a program in which about 15 children were participating.

The kids were fishing when a beaver was spotted approaching a dock where about four or five children were located, a nature center staff member who witnessed the incident told Fairfax County Park Authority spokeswoman Judy Pedersen.

To prevent exposure to rabies:
> Vaccinate pets
> Prevent pets from roaming unattended
> Teach children not to handle wildlife or unfamiliar animals
> Don't adopt wild animals, and don't feed wild or stray animals
> Seal openings in homes to prevent wildlife from entering
Source: Fairfax County Health Department

The beaver jumped on the dock, staggered and jumped toward a 4-year-old girl, Pedersen was told. The staff member grabbed the girl, some of the children's fathers took the kids away from the area, and nature center staff immediately called police.

"Certainly the children were startled by it," Pedersen said.

An Animal Control officer shot and killed the beaver, police officials said. No one was bitten, and there were no injuries.

The 4-year-old girl's family felt they had a "wild fishing story" to tell people in the future, Pedersen said.

This incident was the second involving a rabid beaver in Fairfax County in a matter of days. On Sept. 4, Lillian Peterson was bitten by a beaver while she was swimming in Lake Barcroft.

"I really think it's a coincidence" that there were two rabid beavers found in one week, said Fairfax County Health Department spokesman Glen Barbour.

On Sunday, a rabid raccoon was seen acting strange and walking toward people near homes near Lake Barcroft, police officials said. It is unknown whether the raccoon bit the beaver that attacked Peterson. Animal Control officers plan to canvass the area with educational fliers about rabies.

Barbour could not say whether there was an increase in rabid wildlife at Lake Barcroft, but he said rabies occurs naturally in the county and that rabies activity countywide appears to be consistent with levels in previous years.