KENNECOTT COPPER MINE, Utah (ABC 4 News) - A security officer working near the Kennecott Copper Mine was attacked by an 'aggressive' coyote Monday night.
Kennecott spokesman Justin Jones told ABC 4 that the attack happened at the "concentrator" facility located north of the main open copper pit mine and near the town of Copperton. The "concentrator" facility is used by Rio Tinto to grind rock and taken from the open pit into powder.
Jones said that the female employee encountered the coyote after it entered her security booth and lunged at her neck.
Jones said the employee suffered a few minor wounds to her forearms as she fought back against the animal.
According to Jones, a Salt Lake Unified Police officer was called in after the animal tried to attack other employees outside the security booth.
Jones said the UPD officer eventually encountered the coyote himself, and that the animal also charged on him.
The officer shot twice and killed the coyote, which was picked up by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources on Tuesday, according to Jones.
Utah DWR spokesman John Shivik told ABC 4 News that the aggressive behavior exhibited by the coyote was "rare, uncommon" situation.
The animal's body was taken to a DWR lab where it was being tested for rabies and other diseases.
Shivik said rabies is only one of many possibilities that might explain the coyote's aggressive behavior at the mining facility.
According to Shivik, one of the more likely scenarios is that the animal might have been fed by humans in the past and was exhibiting "pack" mentality.
Meanwhile, Jones said that the employee was treated and released at a local hospital on Monday night, and had already returned to work by the next day.
Jones said that the Kennecott facility spans over 100,000 acres in the Oquirrh Mountains, and wildlife encounters between workers with deer, elk, cougars and coyotes are common, but that aggressive attacks are extremely rare.
Jones said Monday's attack was the first he'd ever heard of.
State officials confirmed late Wednesday that the coyote did not have rabies, but that they were checking the animal for other illnesses. The result of the full necropsy would not be available for another week.