Coyote attacks Kennecott guard

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 3:43 PM


SALT LAKE CITY— Utah officials are awaiting the results of a rabies test on a coyote that attacked a guard at a Kennecott Utah Copper site in Salt Lake County, calling the attack rare.

The woman was sitting in a booth Monday night when the coyote entered through the door and lunged at her, Kennecott spokesman Kyle Bennett said. The coyote bit the woman before she was able to get it out of the security station.

A Unified police officer responded and fatally shot the animal. The animal’s head was sent to a laboratory managed by the Utah Department of Health early Tuesday for a rabies test. The rest of the coyote was sent to the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for a necropsy.

The guard was treated with a few stitches and released from the hospital.

John Shivik, mammal program coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said the animal looked healthy but that more may be known about what led to the attack after the laboratory tests.

"This was an isolated, rare, strange and uncommon thing to happen," he told The Salt Lake Tribune for a story Wednesday. "We need to figure out what was going on."

At least four bats from across Utah have tested positive for rabies this year, but it is uncommon for other mammals to carry the disease, according to Leslie McFarlane, wildlife-disease coordinator for the Wildlife Resources Division.

"In Utah, the only animals we see and have test positive for rabies are bats," she said. "Several years ago, we did have a fox bite a little boy and that was positive, but we really don’t see it in other mammals too often."

Kennecott owns about 100,000 acres in the Oquirrh Mountains, west of the Salt Lake Valley. Bennett said there have been no other reports of coyote problems there.

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