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Coyote Attacks Becoming More Aggressive?

Coyote Attacks Becoming More Aggressive?

Coyote attacks on pets have become normal news fodder in the last few years, and these three stories from the last few weeks may be an example of how aggressive the canine predators are becoming.

Last week the Fairfield-Sun reported that a family's rat terrier was attacked by a pair of coyotes just outside its home. The dog suffered a puncture wound to the neck, but ultimately survived the attack after the coyotes fled at the sight of the dog's owner. Connecticut has been home to a number of attacks in the last year. A recent Fairfield-Sun story noted that the town had dealt with five coyote attacks in five months—and that one ran in June.

The student newspaper of Brandeis University in Massachusetts reported last month that two of the school's students had been attacked by coyotes while crossing campus. Marcie Lieberman was attacked from behind by a coyote, which grabbed at the bottom of her coat. After a brief struggle she was able to shake the animal off and get inside a nearby building, where she reported the attack. Upon realizing her skin had been punctured, she reported to the school's Health Center, which referred her to emergency care. She ultimately received the full gamut of rabies and tetanus shots. Though the animal never turned up, authorities believe it was rabid.

Roger Nelson of Riverside, Ill. had a close and particularly aggressive coyote run-in of his own a few weeks ago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Nelson had just put his three dogs—a golden retriever, German shepherd and beagle—out the back door when four coyotes made their presence known in the yard. Nelson said that the golden and German shepherd immediately made for the door, but the beagle lagged behind a bit, just narrowly getting in the back door ahead of the predators.

Normally that would be the end of the story, but the coyotes were particularly determined in this case—they slammed into Nelson's back door, breaking the glass paneling in the process. They continued their assault on the door until Nelson, a hunter, retrieved what the paper describes as a "high-powered BB gun" and opened fire. He told officials he struck two of the coyotes, which was enough to chase the pack off. Authorities attributed the pack's stubbornness to a decreasing food supply.

Last fall, of course, a woman in Illinois made news for beating coyotes away from her Chihuahua with a newspaper.

As food sources dry up and people expand, there's little limit where coyotes and other predators may turn up—they're getting increasingly common on the streets of major cities, notably Los Angeles.

The safest bet remains to supervise your pets whenever they're outside, but I'll be the first to admit that it's a difficult adjustment to make for those raised in an environment where the family dog safely roamed the yard for hours on end each day, without requiring any watchful eyes.

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