Rabid Coyote Attacks Four People and Two Dogs at South Carolina Apartment Block

Four people and two dogs have been injured after they were attacked by a coyote at an apartment block in South Carolina.

The Richland County Sheriff's Department said the wild animal attacked the victims and their pets at around 6:30 a.m. on September 1 at the Crossroads Apartment complex in the 700 block of Zimalcrest Drive in Columbia, reports The News and Observer.

One female victim said she was taking her dogs for a morning walk when the coyote attacked them in the complex. Speaking to WLTX, the woman said she was able to separate the dogs from the coyote before running back inside her apartment. The coyote then attacked them again after pushing through the door.

Deputies later found the wild coyote and put it down. The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) confirmed to the victims that the coyote has tested positive for rabies.

The four victims took themselves to a nearby hospital, with the two dogs treated at a local veterinarian for their injuries.

Officers with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources also responded to the attack.

According to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, coyotes first appeared in the state more than 30 years ago and are now present in all counties. They have been blamed for a decline of deer population in the state, with studies suggesting that at least 50 percent of all fawn mortalities are a result of being preyed upon by coyotes.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said that since 2002, the state's deer population has declined by more than 30 percent.

"As evidenced in other states with long established coyote populations, expanding coyote populations are likely to impact local deer and small game," the department states on its website. "However, over time coyote populations are expected to stabilize allowing deer, turkey and small game to still exist in healthy numbers in South Carolina."

The state is encouraging hunters to help control the coyote population to stop deer numbers falling further. There is no closed hunting season on coyotes, meaning they can be hunted year round on private lands during the day by those with a valid license.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers advice to local residents on living with coyotes, including never intentionally feeding or attempting to tame them so that they retain their natural fear of people.

The agency also advises people to never leave out any food or garbage which may attract the animals, keep small pets inside and accompany them on a leash when outside.

File photo: A coyote searches for food among the snow-covered rocks of Joshua Tree National Monument, January 28, 2000. Multiple people and dogs have been injured in a coyote attack in South Carolina. David McNew/Newsmakers/Getty