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Fish and Game officer kills coyote that threatened hikers

New Hampshire Union Leader

May 24. 2018 8:11PM

ALTON — A Fish and Game conservation officer shot and killed a likely rabid coyote that for two days had menaced hikers and their domestic animals hiking popular Mount Major that overlooks Lake Winnepesaukee in Alton.

Fish and Game Col. Kevin Jordan said the large 50 lb. animal had attacked one dog but never had any contact with humans.

For that reason, Jordan said the coyote was taken down and buried off the trail of Mount Major rather than have it brought to the state’s public health lab for testing.

“It was a big coyote and it had quills in its face which is a telltale sign for rabies. Every single animal we suspected that had quills tested positive for rabies,” Jordan said.

There were three separate reports from hikers about the coyote that first came in early Wednesday afternoon from a hiker on the Brook (Yellow) Trail who reported coming in contact with a coyote or large German shepherd that had attacked her dog.

“We recommended that her dog get a rabies booster shot,” Jordan said.

Then at 4:10 p.m., Fish and Game officials received a very anxious call from a young woman hiking down the mountain who reported the same coyote was stalking her.

The Alton Police Department sent two officers and one Fish and Game officer responded.

“They found her and another hiker walking back back down the hill because this animal was so aggressive. She told us she picked up a stick at the directions of the dispatcher who was trying to keep her calm,” Jordan said.

“The coyote actually bit the stick so as you can imagine she was very shook up.”

After that second report, Jordan said Fish and Game officials posted signs warning about the animal.

And when Fish and Game Lt. Brad Morse went back to the mountain to search for the animal after dusk, Jordan said he talked some hikers into abandoning their walk.

Morse located the animal near the summit Wednesday night, but the coyote ran off.

Jordan said Conservation Officer Ron Arsenault went back to the mountain Thursday morning and searched for two or three hours in the morning without any luck. Then just as he was coming down off the mountain, a third hiker reported seeing the coyote.

Arsenault then scampered back up the mountain, located the coyote and then shot and killed it just as the animal charged at him, Jordan said.

Jordan said coyotes are not a species that commonly gets rabies; the disease is much more prevalent in raccoons and fox.

“I was really worried about this going into a holiday weekend because it’s such a popular spot for sunset hikes and the like,” Jordan added.

“The challenge is how do you keep people from going for a nice hike if they’ve come from quite a ways to do it? Now we know they will be safe.”

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