Cape Lejeune Marine Corps Base on the North Carolina coast has issued a safety alert after multiple people reported being attacked at the military facility by coyotes.
At least four attacks have occurred recently on the eastern side of the base, near the Wallace Creek area, officials said in a Facebook post.
Investigators did not give details of the injuries, but noted all victims “were running after dark in the vicinity.”
The latest attack occurred at 4 a.m. Sept. 23. All the victims reported being near offices of the II Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group Command when attacked, officials said.
“Until further notice, please do not run in this area after dark until the animal can be removed,” the base said, adding people on base should “report any human encounters with coyotes.”
The Facebook post prompted hundreds of responses within minutes, including some people who reported being followed by large coyotes on the 156,000-acre base. The facility includes pine forests, wetlands and coastline, according to Military.com.
Coyotes are an invasive species in North Carolina and it has been estimated the state has in excess of 50,000 spread across all 100 counties.
They are known for preying on cats and small dogs, and view larger dogs as a threat to be attacked, state wildlife experts say. Attacks on people, including children, are “extremely rare, the state wildlife resources commission reports.
However, multiple attacks on adults and children have been reported in North Carolina the past two years, including two 2018 cases in which coyotes attacked parents with a child.
Coyotes have also been suspected in the 2019 death of teacher Brenda Hamilton, 77, who was attacked in the small Beaufort County town of Pantego. Authorities have yet to determine what kind of animal killed her, but have said the DNA was canine.
“Normal coyote behavior is to be curious, but wary, when close to humans,” the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission reports. “Like other wildlife, they will become bold and habituated if people feed them, either purposely or inadvertently, such as with garbage or outdoor pet food.”
© 2020 The Charlotte Observer
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.