A Vermont couple is recovering from bite wounds they suffered when a coyote attacked them on their property. The homeowner shot and killed the animal.
Scientists confirmed through tests on its brain that the coyote had rabies, so the victims will be receiving shots to protect them, according to the warden who handled the case.
“This is unheard of,” said Game Warden Dale Whitlock of the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department.
The coyote attacked a couple in their 70s while they were in their yard in Salisbury, Whitlock said, snapping at them—biting and puncturing skin on their legs and forearms.
“The coyote sort of circled around them and went after them multiple times,” Whitlock said, recounting the experience described to him by the bite victims.
The couple asked the warden to help protect their privacy, so necn and NBC 10 Boston are not reporting their names or address in this story.
The couple told the warden they immediately backed away from the lunging animal, defending themselves with kicks and swats until they made it to the safety of their farmhouse.
There, the husband got his gun and went outside to kill the coyote—but not before it tried attacking one last time.
“It actually bit the end of the gun barrel right before he shot it,” Whitlock said.
According to a Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department spokesman, lab tests confirmed rabies.
The department said it was Vermont’s first-known rabies case in a coyote, noting the animal would typically tend to stay far away from humans if it were healthy.
Whitlock said the couple is already receiving medical care.
While the warden said the bite victims did nothing wrong, in other cases, he wants people to always leave a good distance between themselves and wild animals, whether or not they appear sick.
“Always give them a wide berth,” Whitlock said of encounters between humans and wildlife.