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Man chokes coyote to death with bare hands after it attacks young son

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Kensington — A dad choked a coyote to death Monday after it tried to bite his young son in what police believe was a series of attacks by the animal on people and dogs.

Kensington police first received a report early Monday of a coyote aggressively approaching a car at 8:40 a.m. near Drinkwater Road.

About 9 a.m., police received a report from a 62-year-old woman on nearby Hemlock Road that she and her two dogs were attacked by a coyote. According to police, the woman said the coyote was on her three-season porch and her two dogs had opened the door when they were attacked.

“While the homeowner was fighting to keep the coyote out of the house she was bitten,” police said in a news release. The woman, whose name was not released, was taken to Exeter Hospital, where she received an initial round of rabies shots. The woman’s two dogs also were treated, police said.

Kensington Police Chief Scott Cain said about two hours later, at 11 a.m., a man identified as Ian O’Reilly, 37, of Kensington was walking with his family in the woods along Phillips Exeter Academy’s Red Trail, near the Kensington-Exeter line, when the same coyote ran out of the woods and attacked the family’s two-year-old son.

Cain said the coyote bit down on the boy’s jacket before the child’s father “went into full protection mode.”

“He grabbed the coyote and strangled it to death,” said Cain. “I’m sure I would have done the same thing in that situation, you do what you need to do to protect your family.”

“I was able to get its head into the snow and my hand around its snout so it could no longer bite me,” O’Reilly told WCVB Channel 5 in Boston. “From there I was able to suffocate it by using my body weight, and basically scissor locking it, suffocating it until it expired. It took about 10 minutes unfortunately, which is a lot longer than I anticipated.

O’Reilly said he was bitten on his arm and chest during a struggle with the coyote. He was also taken to Exeter Hospital to be administered rabies shots, Cain said.

The coyote was sent to the Fish and Game Department, where it will be tested for rabies, Cain said.

“It’s unfortunate (the man) was hurt, but if this hadn’t happened and he didn’t take the action he took, we may not have the coyote’s body to test for rabies,” Cain said.

Cain said Fish and Game expects to have the results of the rabies test by Wednesday.

Cain said Fish and Game officers told him coyotes usually travel in packs, but he said coyote sightings are unusual in the Kensington area.

“They aren’t sure if the animal was sick,” Cain said. “They said it could be a temperament issue.”

pfeely@unionleader.com

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