KENSINGTON, N.H. — A New Hampshire man fought off and eventually killed a coyote that attacked his family Monday near Judes Pond on the Exeter-Kensington line, local police departments confirmed to Boston 25 News.
And that same coyote has since tested positive for rabies, New Hampshire health officials announced Tuesday.
New Hampshire Fish and Game officials are now reminding residents and visitors that wild animals should be left alone, one reason being the possibility of rabies.
“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 Colonel Kevin Jordan, Chief of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division. “We want to therefore remind people that though rabies in animals is uncommon, there are some steps to take to avoid contact with infected animals.”
Exeter Police received a call around 11 a.m. Monday morning that detailed how one father choked the coyote to death after the animal attacked his family on the trail near the pond.
A sergeant with New Hampshire Fish & Game added that the incident began when the coyote attacked one of the father’s three children, who he and his wife were walking with along the trail. That father - who officials later identified as Ian O’Reilly of Kensington, N.H. - was able to kick the coyote away from the 2-year-old child before choking the animal to death.
“There was no interest in it going away. [I] ultimately had to make the decision to become the aggressor and jumped on it, attacked it and [got] it to the ground," O’Reilly said. “When I was able to get on top of it, I put my hand on its snout so it wasn’t able to attack me. There was quite a bit of snow on the ground, so I shoved the face into the snow and then eventually was able [to] put my hand on its snout and expire it through suffocation. Ultimately one hand on its windpipe and one hand on its snout did the trick.”
O’Reilly was apparently bitten in the arm and chest by the coyote. The child involved was also bitten, though the animal did not break the child’s skin due to the snowsuit he was wearing at the time. Since the incident, O’Reilly has already received his first round of rabies shots; he’ll have four more follow-up visits with doctors for more.
The father of three said he was running off of adrenaline and instinct when the nearly 10-minute long struggle ensued. He added that he did not take any pleasure in killing the animal, but believed he had no choice but to protect his wife and kids, given the coyote’s behavior.
The coyote is being tested for rabies. O’Reilly believes there’s no doubt the animal was sick and would’ve continued going after people. The father is becoming a bit of an expert on the topic since last year when his 4-year-old son was attacked by a rabid raccoon in the family’s yard.
“I now have two different animals, two different sequences and two different people," he said. “I would suggest don’t walk with us in the woods.”
Police in Kensington say that other town residents had issues with that same coyote during the day. They say that one person photographed the coyote as it tried to attack a car around 8:40 a.m.
Shortly after, police report that Pat Lee, a 62-year-old Kensington woman, had a run-in with the animal 15 minutes later, when the coyote tried to attack her dogs on Hemlock Road in the town. Lee says that the dogs chased the coyote in their yard after one of the dogs was able to open the porch door.
Lee then closed the door on the coyote’s head after managing to get her dogs inside. The animal escaped before its encounter with O’Reilly sometime later.
New Hampshire Fish & Game say that the same coyote also went after a jogger and her dog, though they did not mention where that incident occurred.