Panton resident experiences an unusual attack by a coyote

COYOTE IN THE WILD Photo by Susan Morse

“Be big, loud and calm (when confronted by a wild animal). And back up; we don’t want people running away … The best thing to do is give wild animals space.”
— Game Warden Wes Butler

PANTON — In light of a coyote attack on a person and their dog in Panton this week, Fish and Game officials are urging Vermonters to give wildlife plenty of room when venturing into their space.

Around mid-day on Sunday, June 19, a Panton resident called authorities to report that they had been attacked by a coyote in broad daylight.

The person, whose name was not immediately available, told Game Warden Wes Butler that they were walking a farm road through an un-mowed pasture behind their home with their dog, when an apparently healthy coyote emerged from the grass. They reported that the coyote attacked the dog and subsequently attacked and bit the Panton resident, leaving a puncture wound in their cheek.

The person separated themself from the coyote and retreated with their dog while shouting to keep the coyote at bay.

“The complainant did many things right in this incident,” said Butler, who responded to the scene along with emergency medical services. “Resolving the immediate threat, making loud noises to deter the coyote from attacking further if applicable, and retreating from the area and contacting emergency services are what we would recommend in any similar situation.”

He gave the Independent simple instructions for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation.

“Be big, loud and calm,” Butler said. “And back up; we don’t want people running away.

“The best thing to do is give wild animals space.”

The coyote was scared off by the time Warden Butler got to Panton. Charlotte Rescue Service treated the person and advised them to seek medical advice regarding precautionary treatment for rabies.

Butler said there have not been further reports of a coyote in the area.

Coyote attacks on people are rare in Vermont. Since 1991 there have been only four prior coyote attacks in Vermont, including a 2019 Salisbury attack involving a rabid animal.

Game Warden Butler advises people walking with their pets to be aware that, especially now, they could stumble across a den or nest where young coyotes, deer or turkeys could be living, and that their parents will try to protect them from perceived threats by humans.

“Keep you dog under control or on a leash,” he said. “It is the time of year you see a lot of baby wildlife.”

Other states advise that aggressive behavior by healthy coyotes is most common during the late spring and summer when coyotes defending young will be protective of the area around their dens, or in cases when coyotes have become habituated to finding food near people’s residences.

The Fish and Wildlife Department recommends avoiding recreating near known den sites through September, making sure to keep dogs leashed, and using deterrence techniques like making loud noises, waving your arms, or throwing sticks or stones if approached by a coyote.

“Coyotes are important members of our ecosystem and Vermonters have a good track record of living safely alongside our state’s healthy, stable coyote population,” said Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department Wildlife Biologist Chris Bernier. “Coyotes are naturally avoidant of people, but also adaptable.

“To help keep Vermont’s coyotes wild, we recommend similar steps to those advised for bears: minimize attractants like unsecured garbage or livestock, use deterrents like loud noises to haze individuals away from your property, and report coyotes that show consistent bold behavior or little fear of people to Fish and Wildlife.”

Addison Independent reporter John S. McCright contributed to this report.

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