A New Hampshire man killed a coyote with his bare hands Monday after it grabbed his 2-year-old son by his jacket hood and dragged him to the ground.
Ian O’Reilly told CNN he had “never harmed an animal so it was a weird experience.” After the coyote bit him twice while he tried fending it off, O’Reilly kicked it away and used his body weight to suffocate it while holding its snout shut, he said in an emailed statement.
The coyote has since tested positive for rabies, the New Hampshire Fish and Game said Tuesday, and authorities believe more animals in the Exeter area could have the virus.
“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 Col. Kevin Jordan, chief of the Fish and Game law enforcement division.
Rabies is a virus that infects mammals. When an infected animal bites a human, rabies is transmitted from saliva through the open wound and into the nerves, where the virus goes to the brain and spinal cord. CDC experts recommend seeing a doctor for post-exposure treatment soon after contact with an infected animal, before the virus has the chance to turn fatal.
O’Reilly told CNN affiliate WCVB in an interview it took him about 10 minutes to kill the coyote.
“I was able to get its head into the snow and get my hand around its snout, so it could no longer bite me,” he said. “And then, from there, I was able to suffocate it by using my body weight and scissor-locking it until basically expiring.”
O’Reilly told CNN affiliate WMUR in a separate interview that he hadn’t quite processed what happened, even after the fact.
“In the middle of the moment, you’re not really thinking or … recording a whole lot,” he said. “You’re really just instinct.”
O’Reilly’s son was not injured.
An earlier attack from the same coyote?
Two hours earlier, another attack occurred in nearby Kensington, according to a Kensington Police Facebook post.
Pat Lee and her two dogs were sitting on her porch when a coyote attacked all three, biting Lee in the process, according to WMUR. Lee and her dogs received rabies shots as a precaution.
State officials have not confirmed whether the coyote killed in Exeter was the same as the one that attacked Pat Lee and her dogs earlier Monday.