Rabid Coyote

This coyote discovered in Huntersville in February tested positive for rabies.

1. A coyote attacked a car in Huntersville

The coyote was spotted on Feb. 3 in the Vermillion neighborhood. John Schroter and his family were in a vehicle when they arrived home and saw what they initially thought was a dog, snarling its teeth in their headlights. The coyote began acting aggressively, attacking the bumper of the truck. “He was growling,” Schroter said. 

Nick Brown had gotten out of his own vehicle before darting back inside upon realizing the coyote was aggressive. He said he was grateful he got back in the car “before the coyote would have gotten to me. With the way that it attacked the side of the car, I can only imagine what it would have done to me if I hadn’t jumped into my truck. It had such a weird appearance to it, almost like a zombie-like state,” Brown said.

Schroter called on the authorities for help. 

 

2. Yes, it was a rabid coyote

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Animal Control responded, finding the coyote whimpering in a nearby field not long after the 911 call. There was blood on the coyote’s mouth, which means it may have bitten a different rabid animal. They confirmed the coyote had contracted rabies, and the coyote was euthanized. Animal control released a statement saying no other animals or people were harmed. 

 

3. It’s not common

State data on confirmed rabies cases indicate that the rabid coyote in Huntersville was only the third confirmed case of a coyote with rabies in a decade in Mecklenburg County. Still, the announcement that the coyote was rabid led to fear on social media, prompting one concerned homeowner to call animal control on a grey animal in her yard. It turned out to be a grey fox. More commonly, raccoons have rabies. In the last 10 years, there have been 140 confirmed cases of rabies in raccoons in the county. No other rabid coyotes have been found in Mecklenburg County since the rabid coyote was euthanized.

 

4. The video went internationally viral

Schroter’s 18-year-old daughter filmed 59 seconds of the coyote. That video has now been shared across media platforms ranging from network news to an online paper in England. Schroter said he didn’t expect it to go viral, and the subsequent attention made it hard for him to work for a few days with all the phone calls. However, he agreed to interviews in the interest of public safety.

“I knew it was a local safety issue so I agreed to the interviews,” he said. 

5. Here’s what to do

According to the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the best thing to do is be prepared when encountering coyotes. The department advises not to try to pet them, not to leave exposed food containers for pets in your yard, to keep trash can lids closed, close off crawl spaces where the animals could seek shelter, to clean up fruit from fruit trees because coyotes love fruit and to throw a tennis ball if you see a coyote in your yard. However, if it’s rabid, that changes what to do. The NCWRC website states that coyotes rarely contract rabies. Rabies symptoms can include aggressive behavior, foaming at the mouth and obvious distress.

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