CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - After years of mounting anxiety in North Carolina over increasingly aggressive coyotes, law enforcement officials are reporting that one has attacked a young girl at the door of her home.
Davie County Animal Control posted an advisory on Facebook on Friday, warning residents of the Thursday evening attack in the unincorporated community of Advance in central North Carolina. The area, about 75 miles northeast of Charlotte, has a population of about 1,100 people.
"A coyote followed a young female to the door of her home and attacked her as she was trying to enter her home," says the Facebook post. "The victim's mother was able to get the coyote to stop the attack. The child suffered minor injuries and is being checked for rabies exposure. The coyote could not be located."
The girl was identified as 9-year-old Madilyn Fowler, a third grader at Shady Grove Elementary, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. In a recorded interview posted on Facebook, the girl told the Journal the animal scratched her on her butt, back and face. She says she hit it on the side of the snout.
"I heard my mom scream," Madilyn says in the video. "I came over there and the coyote decided it just wanted to eat me."
The family reported a coyote had been stalking their family dog prior to the incident, said the sheriff's office.
"We recommend that residents in the area be cautious with their pets and when outdoors for the next two weeks," said a statement from the Sheriff's Office. "An animal infected with rabies normally expires within two weeks, but can spread the disease to other animals and humans that it comes into contact with. Should you see an animal that you believe to be affected please report it to NC Wildlife or Davie Co. Animal Control."
News of the attack comes just a month after a coyote was captured on film snarling and attacking the car of a couple in Huntersville.
Officers from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Animal Care and Control Division captured and killed the coyote and it was later found to have rabies.
The Huntersville incident appears to be the third confirmed case of a rabid coyote in Mecklenburg County in the past decade, according to state data, and only the fifth case statewide in that time. Mecklenburg has had 33 confirmed cases of rabies in bats in the past decade, 24 cases in foxes and 140 cases in raccoons.
The attack in Advance shocked people in the area, and left some demanding state wildlife officials put a bounty on coyotes in the area.
"They are a nuisance and a threat to other wildlife and pets and apparently children, too," William Mathis posted on the Davie County Sheriff's Office Facebook page.
North Carolina officials 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 every North Carolina county.
A key conclusion of the plan approved last Wednesday: trying to reduce coyotes' numbers, such as by shooting them, has "proven ineffective." Hunters and trappers killed about 52,000 coyotes in the 2016-17 seasons, but state biologists don't know how many more are out there.
The coastal town of Nags Head has hired a professional trapper to rid it of the coyotes roaming beaches and areas among the oceanfront homes, the Associated Press reported this week. Nags Head Police Chief Kevin Brinkley said the town hired the trapper after receiving 68 complaints over a two-year period.