A 35-year-old Clinton resident said he needed 14 stitches in his face after what appeared to be a coyote attacked him unprovoked Tuesday night, biting him in the face.
Police said the animal, believed to be a wild coyote or large dog of some sort, went after the man while he was walking down Liberty Street around 9 p.m. Tuesday. The victim said he was going to let his landlord's dogs out when he was attacked.
"The animal lunged at his face and bit his face," said Clinton police spokesman Sgt. Jeremiah Dunn. "We see wild animals, including coyotes and foxes, every night. They're out here. We have them."
The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection sent investigators to the area in search of the animal, but they turned up empty handed.
Police said the resident did not approach or otherwise engage the animal prior to the attack. According to DEEP officials, unprovoked coyote attacks are rare but not unheard of.
"In the middle of the evening, you'll hear coyotes howling some nights," explained Bruce Farmer, who lives in the area.
The victim was treated and released from Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he received 14 stitches in the left side of his nose. He said he'll go back next week to have the stitches removed and fight out if he'll need plastic surgery.
He received treatment for rabies as a precaution, according to police.
Although the animal hasn't been officially identified, the victim said he's all but certain it was a coyote and knows they live in the area.
Police said coyote sightings are frequent in the area. Residents who encounter wildlife are reminded to keep their distance and report unusual encounters to local animal control officers.
"Use common sense and exercise caution," Dunn said.
Residents called the incident unnerving but said they won't live in fear of another attack.
"You can't stop what you normally do, because otherwise you become a prisoner," said Farmer's wife, Barbara.