Rabid coyote killed after injuring 2 men, dog in Newberry Twp., officials say
A coyote that attacked two people and a dog this week in Newberry Township has been killed and has tested positive for rabies, state officials said.
"We're positive it was the same coyote (in both incidents)," Pennsylvania Game Commission Warden Scott Brookens told The York Dispatch. "This is definitely a first, to have a coyote coming into contact with humans in this way."
The coyote's carcass tested positive for rabies on Wednesday, Feb. 12, according to state Department of Health press secretary Nate Wardle.
Neither man suffered serious bite wounds, and the dog also wasn't badly hurt, according to Brookens, who described the coyote as a small female.
Both men have already started rabies treatment, Wardle said.
"Our team is going to the area today to talk to individuals, to make sure everyone knows the coyote was rabid ... and to see if anyone else was exposed," Wardle said on Wednesday. "If people believe they were exposed to a rabid animal, they need to report it immediately and see a doctor immediately.
"Without treatment, rabies is fatal."
The men, who were attacked in separate incidents, are neighbors on Red Bank Road, and each encountered the coyote on his property on Monday, Feb. 10, the warden said.
The first man suffered a scratch or scratches on his ankle while trying to stop an attack on his dog by the coyote, which he did, according to Brookens.
"The dog was not badly hurt at all," the game warden said.
Second incident: Then on Monday night, as a man was inside his garage and had his back turned to the open garage door, the coyote came inside, officials said.
"He felt something brush against the back of his leg," Brookens said, and before the man could turn around he felt a nip.
"He yelled at it, he said, and it ran away," according to the warden. "He got bit on the back of his right thigh and it looked like it barely punctured the skin. He immediately went to ... the hospital and got the treatment that they suggested there."
Brookens learned about the attacks about 1 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 11, from the York County 911 Center, he said.
By that time, Newberry Township residents had been sharing the information with each other and on social media, so many residents knew about the coyote, he said.
At some point Tuesday, the coyote returned to the property where it had attacked the dog, and the dog's owner shot it with a small-game shotgun, causing facial injuries, according to Brookens.
The coyote left a blood trail as if fled.
Brookens said he called in a person he knows who has a pack of fox- and coyote-hunting dogs, and they went to the Red Bank Road area to track down the coyote.
"We're guessing the coyote picked up (the dogs' scent) and ran to an adjacent property," he said.
The Popps Ford Road neighbor then fatally shot the coyote, Brookens said.
Two workers marking timber in the woods of Newberry Township also saw the coyote on Monday and alerted officials, saying it didn't show fear of them, according to the warden.
Brookens strongly urged people not to feed coyotes or any Pennsylvania predators.
Warden Amy Nabozny, who is acting information education supervisor for the Game Commission's Southcentral Region office, said people have little to fear from healthy coyotes.
"Typically, coyotes are very elusive and avoid people," she said, noting that coyotes are widespread and quietly live among us.
"This is definitely not typical behavior of a coyote — or any wild animal, for that matter," Nabozny said. "If you make noise, they generally take off. This coyote was behaving erratically."
As a game warden in Huntingdon County, Nabozny has seen coyotes in the wild and never had them do anything but run from her.
"They don't want to be around people any more than people generally want to be around them," she said.
The wardens said there's no shortage of coyotes in Pennsylvania.
People in areas where coyotes are hunting should keep outdoor food sources cleaned up and keep an eye on their dogs and cats, Nabozny warned.
"They are opportunistic feeders," she said of coyotes.
The state Department of Health is urging anyone exposed to the coyote to call the York County State Health Center weekdays during normal business hours at 717-771-4505. After hours, call 877-PA-HEALTH.
People who have pets that might have been exposed are directed to call their veterinarians.
For more information about rabies — which experts say is always fatal without treatment — check out the state Department of Health's online rabies fact sheet. Go to www.health.pa.gov and search for "rabies fact sheet."
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.