After reading about the tragic death of a young folk singer in Canada from an attack by two coyotes, I am reminded that these wild animals should be treated with caution and never, ever fed. These amazing animals have been thriving in our urban/suburban environement. Because they look like the famiily dog, well-meaning people can sometimes forget that coyotes need to be left to fend for themselves. This is for their protection as well as ours.
Experts say this this type of attack is extremely rare. In order to keep facts in perspective, there are 4.7 million dog bites every year - with 1000 people every day needing treatment in emergency rooms. Meanwhile, some other statistics about coyotes:
- about 1 person per year is bitten by a coyote in California
- between 1993-1997 seven people were bitten by coyotes in Arizona
- The best estimates assert that, in recorded history, there have been 20 to 30 coyote attacks on humans that resulted in injuries
What is more common are coyote attacks on pets - such as Jessica Simpson's small dog Daisy being snatched by one in California. Numerous small dogs have been killed by coyotes in their own yards.
The reason I am writing about coyotes is because they live among us, primarily here in Glencoe and Winnetka. As I am a regular runner on the Green Bay Trail in the early mornings, I have often been treated to a fleeting glance of a coyote as it disappears into the brush. On our nightly walks after dinner, my husband and I occasionally see one walking on the Metra rail tracks.
Our dog is always leashed on walks - primarly to avoid the dreaded skunk spraying, but also to prevent a run-in with a coyote. Our dog weighs about 40 lbs., perhaps too large for a coyote attack, but why take the chance. Recently, a coyote was seen walking by Hubbard Woods School in Winnetka broad daylight as neighborhood dogs, confined in their yards with invisible fences, barked hysterically. I would not have believed it except I saw it myself.
Use common sense if you see a a coyote and remember:
- Coyotes prefer not to be seen by humans
- Urban coyotes are more active at night than their rural cousins
- They actually do us a favor by eating rodents that we don't want around
- Don't leave your pet's food outside
- Keep cats inside
- Keep your dog on a leash
- Don't let pets out at night unless accompanied
Coyotes are here to stay - remember the rules and you and your pets will remain safe.