After years of growing anxiety in North Carolina about aggressive coyotes, authorities reported that one has attacked a girl at the door of her house.
Davie County Animal Control posted a notice on Facebook on Friday, warning residents of Thursday night's badault on the unincorporated Advance community in central North Carolina. The area, about 75 miles northeast of Charlotte, has a population of approximately 1,100 people.
"A coyote followed a young woman to the door of her house and attacked her when she tried to enter her house," says the Facebook publication. "The victim's mother managed to get the coyote to stop the attack, the child suffered minor injuries and is being examined for exposure to rabies, the coyote could not be located."
The girl was identified as Madilyn Fowler, 9-year-old third-grade student at Shady Grove Elementary, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. In a recorded interview posted on Facebook, the girl told the Journal that the animal had scratched her on the butt, back and face. She says she hit him on the side of the muzzle.
"I heard my mother scream," says Madilyn in the video. "I came there and the coyote decided he just wanted to eat me."
The family reported that a coyote had been stalking his family dog before the incident, the sheriff's office said.
"We recommend residents of the area should be cautious with their pets and when they are outdoors for the next two weeks," said a statement from the Sheriff's Office. "An animal infected with rabies usually expires in two weeks, but it can transmit the disease to other animals and humans it comes in contact with If you see an animal that you think is affected, report it to NC Wildlife or Davie Animal Co. Control ".
The news of the attack comes just a month after a coyote was captured in a movie growling and attacking the car of a couple in Huntersville.
Officers in the Animal Care and Control Division of the Charlotte-Meckenburg Police Department captured and killed the coyote and was found to have rabies.
The Huntersville incident appears to be the third confirmed case of a rabid coyote in Mecklenburg County in the last decade, according to state data, and only the fifth case in the entire state at that time. Mecklenburg has had 33 confirmed cases of rabies in bats in the last decade, 24 cases in foxes and 140 cases in raccoons.
The attack on Advance surprised people in the area and left some state wildlife officials demanding a reward for the coyotes in the area.
"They are a nuisance and a threat to other animals and pets and apparently also to children," William Mathis posted on the Facebook page of the Davie County Sheriff's Office.
"I knew I was going to get in. Too many coyotes around have seen them in packages … at my house," wrote Jackie Caldwell of Advance on Facebook. "At night, I hear them crossing the forest in front of me, which is Markland Road … They cross my yard to eat the cows behind me, something has to be done to get rid of those things."
Officials in North Carolina say the animal's unique ability to adapt to a wide range of habitats, including suburban environments, has led to an increase in sightings.
The state Wildlife Resources Commission has approved a new plan to control the coyotes that now roam each county in North Carolina. A key conclusion of the plan approved last Wednesday: trying to reduce the numbers of coyotes, such as shooting them, "has proven to be ineffective". Hunters and trappers killed some 52,000 coyotes in the 2016-17 seasons, but state biologists do not know how many more there are out there.