Coyote attacks Stateline jogger
A jogging tourist became the target of a coyote attack Sunday morning near the casino corridor, wildlife officials said.
The woman was jogging around 5 a.m. near the meadow used by Borges Sleigh rides when she felt a tugging at her leg. Thinking her shoelaces were untied the woman stopped to tie them and noticed a coyote standing near her.
Robert Beach, state director of the Nevada Animal Damage Control Program, said the woman told officials that as she reached to take off her headphones the animal lunged at her. The coyote reportedly trailed the woman to the turnoff for Harrah’s Lake Tahoe and back to the gate of the meadow, lunging at her periodically. The woman got away by hailing a passing car on Lake Parkway.
“It seems the woman walked backward trying to keep her eye on the coyote. She had a puncture wound on her thigh, lower leg, hand, and a cut on her neck,” Beach said.
In their natural state coyotes are shy retiring animals, but if they learn to identify humans as a food source they can become a nuisance and in the worst case scenario dangerous.
“My gut feeling, and it’s only my gut feeling, is that this coyote has been fed by people,” Beach said. “We just worked a case down in Las Vegas, where workers, out on lunch, were throwing food to coyotes. They ended up bitting several people.
“When the woman reached for her headphones the coyote probably thought it was something to eat,” he said.
Beach said that two weeks earlier Douglas County Animal Control received a call about a coyote roaming the third floor of Caesars Tahoe’s parking garage. Workers tried to chase the animal out, but it ended up cornered.
“It sounds like this particular coyote has become accustomed to people,” he said. “Any time a wild animal is acting oddly, and for a coyote that’s friendly, people should notify animal control or the sheriff’s department.
On Tuesday, Beach and other wildlife officials used an animal distress call in the area of the attack to flush out coyotes.
“We called up a total of six coyotes within a quarter of a mile of where the attack happened. It’s unusual for that many coyotes to be in one area,” Beach said.
Two of the coyotes were killed and taken back to a lab in Reno to test for rabies.
“The attack was what we would call an anomaly. The coyote shouldn’t be acting that way. When an anomaly happens we want to remove it for three reasons: we don’t want it to happen again; we don’t want it to teach the habit to other coyotes; and there is a possibility the animal was sick. I really don’t think the coyotes do have rabies, but we would be remiss to not test them.”
Rhonda Fingar, Douglas County animal control supervisor, said residents and tourists need to treat wildlife with respect.
“Wild animals are out there for our enjoyment to see from a far,” she stressed. “People should avoid contact, and should never feed them, because you’re just asking for an accident to happen.”
Beach said the reason for the coyote’s behavior can probably be linked to humans.
“We like to live with them. It’s really a human fault. Somewhere along the line someone was probably giving this coyote treats, or unknowingly putting dog food out where it could reach it, or not securing their garbage,” Beach said. “Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as the little girl who was attached two years ago.”
A 4-year-old was mauled by a coyote in February 1997 outside her family’s vacation rental on Saddle Road. Shortly after the attack, a woman who lived near the rental told officials that some of the neighbors had been leaving food out for wild animals. The coyote was shot by the responding officer. The girl survived, but needed nearly 60 sutures to close the puncture wounds.
Beach said the woman bitten Sunday has already started treatment to avoid the chance of a rabies infection.
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