You’re out for an early morning nature hike, when a sharp, ungodly howl rattles your insides. It sounds like a monster. Before you can say a word, you’re smack in the tracks of a snarling animal with yellow eyes, black pupils, and long, sharp teeth! Should you run away?

Coyotes are highly adaptable and will eat almost anything. Since the turn of the 20th century, they have been getting increasingly comfortable around human settlements. And if a rabid coyote lands even a tiny bite on you, it could be enough to kill you.

How can you tell if a coyote is rabid? When should you throw rocks at it? And what can you do if you’re surrounded by a pack of coyotes?

Step 1. Do Not Run

Whatever you do, do not panic and run. This will trigger the coyote’s hunting behavior. Instead, back off slowly, always keeping eye contact.”

Step 2. Make Yourself Big and Loud

If you’re facing a coyote, you have about 15 seconds to get your act together. Coyotes don’t like to fight animals that are bigger than they are. So, stand tall and make some noise. Yell and clap your hands. The adult male is about 23 kilograms (51 lb) and can be scared off by a larger, more assertive creature.

Step 3. Pick Up Your Little Ones

An adult male weighs about 23 kilograms kg (50 lb) and stands up to 66 cm (26 in) high at the shoulder. And lone coyotes are most likely to go after smaller children and pets. Pick them up and out of the coyote’s range. Retract the leash on any larger dogs.

Step 4. Prevention Goes a Long Way

If you live in an area with coyotes, don’t leave pet food out in the open. And tightly secure garbage and compost bins. When you venture into potential coyote territory, carry pepper spray, or a water gun filled with vinegar. Noise makers and whistles can also be useful.

Step 5. Fight

Could you save your child from a coyote attack? A New Hampshire dad killed a rabid coyote with his bare hands, after the animal attacked his toddler in January 2020. He kicked the coyote off his child and threw his body on it. Clamping the coyote’s snout shut with his hands, he pressed it’s nose into the snow, and pinned it’s body to the ground. In about 10 minutes it was all over for the coyote.

But if your instincts fail you and the coyote has the upper ‘paw’, protect your vital organs by curling up into a ball. And scream for help.

Step 6. Beware of the Pack

If coyotes surround you, shield children from the pack by placing them in the center. Throw rocks at the coyotes and continue to yell. You’ll need to appear large and scary. As soon as you can, get to safety inside a car or building.

Step 7. Watch Out for Rabies

If the coyote is rabid, it likely wont respond as expected. Get inside a car, behind a coyote-proof fence or indoors if possible. If the coyote manages to break your skin, it’s critical to respond right away.

Wash any bites thoroughly with running water and soap. Inform authorities and get an anti rabies vaccine immediately. Disease like rabies is the leading cause of coyote deaths.

Most of us know to read Frothing at the mouth, unusual aggression, limping or staggering are typical signs of rabies in an animal. But rabid wild animals can also display what is called dumb behavior.

So think twice before whipping out that camera to capture your Snow White moment with an unusually sociable coyote. It’s probably got the big R!

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