Rabid coyote attacks Roswell man just before killing challenge begins

Just days before the start of a statewide challenge to kill coyotes began, a rabid coyote attacked a Roswell man on his morning run.

Bill Goff was jogging down Lake Charles Drive Monday when a coyote bit his leg, he told Channel 2 Action News.

Tests revealed the animal, who was euthanized, had rabies. Goff is taking a series of shots and had a bandage on his leg covering the wound, the television station reported.

Authorities told Goff coyote attacks are extremely rare in the area.

The incident happened two days before the start of the state Department of Natural Resources’ “Georgia Coyote Challenge,” which incentivizes hunters to kill coyotes for a chance to win a lifetime hunting license. Georgians may turn in up to five carcasses a month from March to August.

The challenge caused backlash from the Atlanta Coyote Project, a local group that researches coyotes in the area.

Now a national nonprofit, Project Coyote, has gotten involved.

Scientists with the organization sent a letter Thursday to the DNR and Gov. Nathan Deal arguing the challenge contradicts the agency’s own plans.

The Georgia Deer Management Plan, prepared by the DNR in 2014, states that the Wildlife Resources Division and and the state Legislature oppose coyote bounty programs because they're viewed as an "ineffective tool."

“... Yet here they are promoting a statewide incentivized coyote kill fest that has no legitimate wildlife management purpose whatsoever,” Camilla Fox, Project Coyote’s founder and executive director, said in a news release.

The challenge is not a bounty, said DNR spokeswoman Melissa Cummings, but a way to reduce the negative impact coyotes have on native wildlife during the challenge months.

“We have never stated that the goal of this program is to reduce the statewide coyote population, nor do we believe the Georgia Coyote Challenge serves as an effective tool in managing the population,” Cummings said in an email.

The rabid coyote attack in Roswell this week strengthens supporters of DNR's shooting challenge. (A woman in Roswell was also attacked, unprovoked, by a rabid coyote in July.)

Still, animal advocates say the state's focus is in the wrong place.

Raccoons, which transmit rabies in the southeast, should be getting more attention, said Chris Mowry, associate professor of biology at Berry College and Atlanta Coyote Project advocate.

Mowry is not aware of an official government response to the organization's letter.