Utah wildlife officials are calling a coyote attack on a female security guard at Kennecott Utah Copper Monday night “rare” and “strange.”
At 9:45 p.m. Monday, a contracted security officer staffing the Kennecott entrance at 10200 South and 8400 West was in a booth when a coyote entered through the door and lunged at the woman.
“As the animal was engaging her, she put up her arm to defend herself, and she did get several bites on her forearm,” said Kennecott spokesperson Kyle Bennett. “She was eventually able to get the animal out of the security station, and she called for backup.”
Bennett said the woman was taken to Jordan Valley Medical Center where she was treated with “a few stitches” and released.
A Unified police officer responded to the scene and shot the coyote. The head of the canine was sent to the Unified State Laboratories managed by the Utah Department of Health early Tuesday for a rabies test. Authorities said results could come as early as Wednesday.
The rest of the coyote was sent to the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for a necropsy.
“It looked healthy. We may know better after the rabies test and the necropsy what may have led to the attack,” said John Shivik, mammal program coordinator for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR). “This was an isolated, rare, strange and uncommon thing to happen. We need to figure out what was going on.”
Leslie McFarlane, wildlife-disease coordinator for the DWR, said 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.
“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.”
Bennett said there have been no reports of coyote problems at that entrance or anywhere else on the approximately 100,000 acres Kennecott owns in the Oquirrh Mountains.
“We see wildlife frequently, but it is very unusual to have personal contact with an animal. This is the first attack I am aware of,” Bennett said. “In the course of her job as she was entering the station the coyote came in and surprised her.”
Brett Prettyman is outdoor editor at The Salt Lake Tribune.