SADDLE RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Officials have confirmed the coyote who attacked a man in Saddle River earlier this week tested positive for rabies.

Saddle River Acting Mayor Dr. Al Kurpis, police Chief Timothy McWilliams and other local officials called an emergency meeting Wednesday to address the development and issue guidelines to residents.

More: Information on rabies | CDC | 5 Things You May Not Know About Rabies

On Monday, John Zeug reported to police that he was attacked by a coyote outside his home.

The 77-year-old, of the Twin Brooks area, said he was gardening in his yard when the coyote attacked.

“I finished that section and was crossing the drive, and boom!” Zeug said. “He got me in the back of the leg.”

He was able to escape and was taken to an area hospital for treatment, Saddle River police said.

Zeug suffered three puncture wounds to his leg. The attack from behind happened during the day after he yelled at the coyote – actually a female – whose dead pups were found under Zeug’s cabin.

Officials said due to the suspected exposure to rabies, Zeug immediately started rabies post-exposure vaccination.

The state Health Department said it is only the sixth coyote identified as rabid in the last 25 years, WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell reported.

TYCO Animal Control and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish and Wildlife had been notified and responded to the scene along with local officers, police said. The coyote had been spotted in the woods and was killed, police said.

Officials said the Saddle River Police Department and Department of Fish, Game and Wildlife are searching for the coyote’s mate and any other possible offspring.

Now that the coyote has tested positive for rabies, officials are urging residents to remain vigilant and said no small children or pets should be left unattended outdoors. All pet owners are being urged to keep their animals up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations as well.

Officials said all mammals are susceptible to rabies, which occurs naturally and is well established in the area. The Department of Health is reminding residents to stay away from all wildlife, especially if an animal is acting sick or unusually friendly.

Police said Zeug’s neighbor’s yellow Labrador retriever had also been attacked by the same coyote this past weekend. The incidents are considered strange, because coyotes are nocturnal. Workers in the area had earlier reported seeing the coyote several times Monday acting aggressively toward other dogs, police said.

Anyone who encounters suspicious wildlife should report it immediately to the Saddle River Police Department, officials said. Any resident that suspects that they or their animals may have been exposed should call the Saddle River Health Office immediately at 201-327-2609 ext. 234.

According to New Jersey Health Department statistics, this is only the sixth coyote identified with rabies in the last 25 years. In recent years, there have been two coyote attacks on humans in New Jersey. One was reported in Chester in October of last year, and the coyote turned out to have rabies. The other happened in 2009.


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