HOPKINTON, N.H. — New Hampshire officials say a teenager walking his dog in Hopkinton was attacked by a coyote and is receiving a course of rabies shots as a precaution.
A Fish and Game wildlife biologist called the Wednesday attack on a human “highly unusual” and said they believe the coyote is rabid because of its uncharacteristically aggressive behavior.
Officials believe the same coyote attacked a dog in Hopkinton earlier in the week. The dog survived, but required veterinary care.
Fish and Game officials say the teen, whose name was not released, was walking the family dog in a wooded area near his home when the coyote approached. His dog ran and the coyote attacked the teenager. Officials say the teen punched the coyote repeatedly in the nose until it ran off. The teenager was scratched and possibly bitten by the coyote.
“It’s the first time we know of that a coyote has attacked a person in New Hampshire,” wildlife biologist Pat Tate said. He said local residents need to be aware the coyote is out there.
Fish and Game conservations officers and Hopkinton police are searching for the coyote and plan to kill it on sight, if possible. The animal will then be tested for rabies.
Tate said coyotes are present throughout the state and typically show no interest in humans or pets.
“This incident, as scary as it was, gives us no reason to fear wild animals in general,” Tate said. “We suspect it’s the same coyote and that the coyote is rabid, given the uncharacteristic aggressiveness of the attacks.
“If a coyote expresses any interest in a human — whether friendly or aggressive — that’s unusual and that’s when you need to be on alert,” Tate said.
Tate recommends people yell at coyotes to instill fear. Most, he said, will retreat when faced with loud noise or thrown objects.
“Shout at it. Make sure it knows you are a threat,” Tate said. “If it comes at you, hit it hard on the head and snout.”
Hopkinton residents who spot an aggressive coyote are asked to call the Fish and Game dispatch center at 271-3361 during the day and 911 in the evening.