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Deputy kills sick coyote sighted by residents
By Chris Collins
A sick coyote found disoriented and foaming at the mouth was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy Wednesday evening in the neighborhood along Kirkway Drive.
Deputy Nathan Lay of the Baker County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police game officer Sr. Trooper Brad Duncan responded to the report of a possibly rabid coyote, said Undersheriff Warren Thompson.
Lay killed the animal with a shotgun after it left the neighborhood and traveled east into an adjoining field, he said. It was then delivered to the Baker City office of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW).
The animal’s body has been sent to the ODFW’s Corvallis lab for further investigation, said Hans Hayden, assistant district biologist in the Baker City ODFW office.
A necropsy (animal autopsy) will be performed at the Oregon State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Corvallis, said Colin Gillin, the state’s wildlife veterinarian.
Gillin said diseases other than rabies, and even poisoning, can produce similar symptoms.
“I wouldn’t actually hang my hat on rabies,” he said in a telephone interview from his Corvallis office Thursday. “There are a lot of things that can cause neurological signs in mammals.
“Canine distemper looks exactly like rabies,” he said.
The coyote’s brain will be examined first to determine whether it was suffering from rabies or distemper, he said. And, if necessary, the rest of the animal’s body will be examined.
“I don’t try to guess at any of these things until they figure it out in the lab,” he said.
Gillin said test results should be available by Monday or sooner.
Hayden, who has worked in the Baker City and La Grande ODFW offices for the past 10 years, said a finding of rabies is rare.
“I have seen very few (if any) positive results in 10 years,” he said.
Canine distemper also is seen only occasionally.
The symptoms described by those who saw the animal provide no definitive information about what made it sick, he said.
“All that tells me is the animal was compromised,” he said.
It could have been suffering from starvation or poisoning, for example, he said.
The number of coyotes in the area is not abnormally high this fall, Hayden said.
“The reason this coyote was where it was, I’m sure, is because it had this problem,” he said.
The coyote was first spotted in the area of Kirkway Drive about 5:45 p.m. Wednesday by Brian Addison of Baker City.
He said he was driving south on Kirkway when he saw the animal standing in the middle of the road, foaming excessively at the mouth and walking around looking very disoriented.
Addison called 911 and then followed the coyote to keep track of it until police arrived.
He said he tracked it for about a half hour and then left when no one from law enforcement arrived.
“During the half hour, the coyote walked within two feet of a barking poodle, weaved in and out of the residences on Kirkway and walked through a carport and into someone’s backyard when I lost sight of it,” he wrote in an email to the Baker City Herald.
It did not show any signs of aggressive behavior, he said.
Addison said he passed Duncan, the OSP game trooper, as he was heading home.
Ron and Sherry Quigley, who live at 3830 Kirkway Drive, had been to Boise for the day to watch their grandchildren’s football games.
They had stopped for a bite to eat and returned home about dusk to find a commotion in their neighborhood.
Police were just leaving when they arrived at their house.
Their neighbors came over to tell them about how the coyote had traveled in the area of their shop and then moved into the field where the deputy shot it.
Ron Quigley, a retired OSP game officer, said it’s not unusual to see coyotes and foxes in the fields next to their home on the east side of Kirkway. And as a game officer, he had “disposed of several animals” himself, but never one that had rabies.