Rabid coyote shot in New Haven; second in county this month
NEW HAVEN — For the second time in two weeks a coyote with rabies was identified in Addison County.
A New Haven man shot and killed a coyote when it charged him in his yard this past Thursday, according to Vermont wildlife officials. That came 10 days after a coyote attacked a man and woman outside their Salisbury home, and the man shot the animal.
State Department of Health officials confirmed that the coyotes in both cases suffered from rabies.
Lt. Justin Stedman of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department said that a young woman saw a coyote acting strangely on her family’s property on the New Haven side of the town line with Middlebury this past Wednesday.
“It didn’t seem right to her,” Stedman said.
The coyote returned on Thursday when the family was on the porch. The father called his dogs on to the porch and yelled at the coyote to scare it away. But the coyote charged the family, Stedman recounted, and the father shot it four our five times, and it was dead.
There was no direct contact between the coyote and a human being; no humans were injured.
A state game warden retrieved the coyote the next day and on Friday, April 12, the Department of Health confirmed that the animal had rabies.
“It’s very unusual” for one coyotes to get rabies, not to mention two, said State Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Louis Porter. “Coyotes don’t often get rabies. It’s very uncommon.”
Because it is so uncommon, Porter said people in Addison County shouldn’t be afraid of more rabid coyotes, and in all instances should simply stay clear of a wild animal that is acting in a strange manner.
“People should always give wild animals some distance,” he said.
Fish and Wildlife officials are working with experts at the USDA to determine what kind of rabies the coyotes had. Porter said it could be the kind carried by skunks or the kind carried by foxes. In both the Salisbury and New Haven cases the rabid coyotes had the odor of skunk about them, Porter said.
When they figure out the type of rabies it could help officials determine why these two incidents happened and what if any rabies vaccines could be spread.
Back on April 1, a rabid coyote attacked George and Priscilla Gilman as they were walking from their barn to their house off Hubbard Road in Salisbury.
A coyote weighing an estimated 40 pounds emerged from some bushes and charged at the couple with no warning or provocation. The Gilmans sustained multiple puncture wounds from the coyote’s teeth, before fighting off the animal and escaping into their house. George Gilman returned with a shotgun and dispatched the animal. Both Gilmans are undergoing rabies prevention treatments. (Click here to read the full story.)
Rabies is a deadly viral disease that infects mammals, including humans.
State officials are urging residents in the areas where these two rabid coyotes were found to take precautions.
It is possible that additional coyotes in the area, and other wildlife vulnerable to rabies — such as raccoons and skunks, could also be sick and capable of spreading the disease to humans or other animals. State health and fish and wildlife officials are urging residents near Salisbury and New Haven — and all Vermonters — to take precautions to stay safe and know what to do if they or their pets may have been exposed to rabies.
WHAT TO DO IF ATTACKED
• If you are bitten or scratched by an animal, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water and contact your health care provider immediately. Follow all instructions they may give.
• If your pet or farm animal was exposed to a potentially rabid wild or stray animal, contact your veterinarian immediately.
• Make sure all family pets, including barn cats, are up to date with rabies shots.
• If you see a wild or stray animal acting strangely, reach out to your local Fish & Wildlife game warden through state police dispatch (911), report it to your town’s animal control officer, or call the Rabies Hotline (1-800-4-RABIES).
• Do not touch or pick up wild or stray animals — even baby animals — or try to make them into pets. Doing so can put yourself or your family at risk. You can’t tell if an animal has rabies just by looking at it.
Rabies among coyotes in the state is relatively rare. Among animals tested at the Health Department Laboratory since 2005, these latest incidents are the first coyotes to test positive. Officials said that by taking reasonable precautions, such as avoiding animals that are acting sick or aggressive, people can safely enjoy being outside or in the woods, and appreciate Vermont wildlife from a respectful distance.
The rabies virus is spread through the bite of an infected animal, most commonly raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes. Rabies is transmitted only when the virus is introduced into a bite wound, open cuts on the skin, or onto mucous membranes like the mouth or eyes. People cannot get rabies from petting or handling animals, or from coming into contact with the animal’s urine, blood or feces. When caring for pets, always feed them inside the house and keep them indoors at night. If they are outdoors during the day, keep them on a leash or in an enclosed space. Pets that roam free are more likely to be exposed to rabies.
“It was strange to have these two things so close together,” Porter said of the two recent rabid coyotes. “We are confident these things will remain unusual.”
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