Three Marines and a sailor have been bitten by a coyote on the loose at a North Carolina base, prompting leaders there to issue a warning to anyone going out after dark.
The recent attacks took place near the Wallace Creek area at Camp Lejeune. The latest occurred Wednesday at about 4 a.m., according to a Facebook post from base officials.
"Until further notice, please do not run in this area after dark until the animal can be removed," the Facebook warning states.
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The Marines and sailors were all bitten on the leg, said Nat Fahy, a Camp Lejeune spokesman. None of the injuries was serious.
"They all received medical treatment ... including rabies post-exposure treatment, which is standard protocol," Fahy said.
The coyote encounters happened near the II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group Area Command. Fahy said wildlife staff at Camp Lejeune believe only one coyote is involved in the attacks.
Coyotes live in all of North Carolina's 100 counties, according to the state's Wildlife Resources Commission. People are urged not to feed coyotes because, once they become habituated, the animals lose their natural wariness of people and "may become bold and aggressive," the wildlife commission warns.
"Don't be intimidated by a coyote," a pamphlet from the commission states. "Maintain its wariness by throwing a small object, such as a tennis ball, at it; making a loud noise; or spraying it with a hose. Let it know it is unwelcome."
This isn't the first time Marines and sailors in North Carolina have been warned about dangerous wildlife on base. In 2018, officials at the nearby Marine Corps Air Station New River suspected that Marines were feeding an alligator living behind the barracks.
"In addition to being illegal, feeding an alligator is dangerous and creates a safety issue if they become habituated to being fed by humans," stated a safety warning from the air station, which at the time was also shared by Camp Lejeune.
Anyone who crosses paths with the coyote at Camp Lejeune is instructed to call 911 or the base provost marshal office.
-- Gina Harkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ginaaharkins.
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