An aggressive coyote strangled to death by a New Hampshire father after it attacked his toddler son on Monday has tested positive for rabies.
Police believe the same coyote was responsible for attacking a vehicle in Hampton Falls, biting a 62-year-old woman and her dogs on a porch in Kensington and attacking a family on a walking trail in Exeter.
Ian O'Reilly killed the animal with his bare hands after it attacked him and his 2-year-old son. He was walking in the woods with his wife and three young children at the time.
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He said the coyote came up from behind and grabbed his youngest child. His wife was able to disengage them, but the animal wouldn't back down.
"I was able to kick it in the jaw," O'Reilly said. "It went down. I just gripped its snout, kept it in the snow and then was eventually able to put my hand over its nose and in the process just gripped its windpipe and sat there for a long time. Five minutes later I thought it was over with but it wasn't. Then I straddled it and scissor locked it, then continued to just hold it down."
New Hampshire Fish and Game officials confirmed Tuesday that the animal tested positive for rabies and issued a warning, saying that there may be others in the area.
"Based on all the evidence we have collected and in talking with several people who recently reported seeing coyotes acting erratically, we don’t believe this is the only coyote in the Exeter area that may have rabies," said Col. Kevin Jordan, chief of the Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division.
The two adult victims have already received rabies shots. It wasn't immediately clear if the 2-year-old will have to undergo treatment as well.
Rabies is spread from animal to people through saliva, generally through biting or scratching. Wildlife officials said it is important not to come in contact with wild animals, especially ones that are acting strangely, being aggressive, acting sleepy or walking unsteadily.
Anyone with questions about rabies can call the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, Bureau of Infectious Disease Control, at 603-271-4496. For more information about rabies, go to https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/wildlife/diseases.html.