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Coyote bites child on North Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown

In this Feb. 10, 2013, file photo, a coyote stands in a field in Montana.Karen Nichols/Associated Press

National Park Service rangers Thursday located the corpse of the coyote that bit a young child Wednesday night at North Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown on the Cape Cod National Seashore and plan to have the animal tested for rabies as they continue to investigate the attack.

The child and the child’s mother were on the beach around 8:30 p.m. when the child was bit by the coyote, officials said. The child’s age and gender were not released.

National Seashore Deputy Superintendent Leslie Reynolds said the family has not yet been interviewed by the park service, so the circumstances of the attack are unknown, such as whether they were trying to feed the animal or it was a coyote that had become habituated to eating human food.

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The child was taken to Cape Cod Hospital by ambulance with what were believed to be non-life-threatening injuries, according to authorities.

Reynolds responded to the scene spotted the coyote and shot the animal with her AR-15 patrol rifle, she said in a phone interview. The animal ran off after it was wounded and rangers spent several hours Wednesday night trying to locate it without success. A renewed search led to the discovery of the its body around noon Thursday in thick brush some 50 yards away from where it was shot, Reynolds said.

“We will get it tested for rabies,” she said.

The test results could then mean “the child doesn’t have to get rabies shots,” she said. “That’s why we have to kill the coyote since it bit the child. We do have to test it for rabies.”

Rangers regularly try to discourage coyotes who come into close contact with human-created sources of food by hazing them with shouts and loud noises. And that sometimes works.

But if a coyote learns where fishermen drop fish guts or where campers and picnickers gather, it becomes increasingly difficult to convince the animal to leave, she said.

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“It’s very hard to compete with what a hot dog tastes like,” she said. “This is preventable. Don’t feed the wildlife.”

Reynolds said its possible that the coyote involved in the Thursday night biting incident is the same animal that menaced a woman walking on Race Point in Provincetown recently, though that would be very difficult to confirm. Reynolds noted, however, that the two incidents did not take place near each other.

Marcy Sterlis was taking a morning walk on the beach when the coyote approached and circled her, ignoring her shouts and a stick she was waving at the animal.

“It was horrifying,” she told the Globe.




John R. Ellement can be reached at john.ellement@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JREbosglobe.