What to know about coyotes in Mukilteo

By Brandon Gustafson | Nov 29, 2017
Courtesy of: Susan Pettibone, Beacon file photo Two coyotes wandering the streets of Mukilteo.

When Julie Bogart woke up last month to help her daughter get ready for school, she didn’t have any idea she’d soon be doing battle with a coyote.

“I heard this nasty howling,” Bogart said. “It was loud and just horrible.”

After hearing her dog bark and some  loud whining, Bogart investigated and found that the coyote was attacking her daughter’s cat, Tom.

“I had just gotten shoulder surgery and I basically was out there, one-armed, getting ready to fight off this coyote,” Bogart said. “I wasn’t going to let it kill our cat.”

Bogart, who lives near Kamiak High School, said she had to go outside and use her car to try to scare off the coyote.

“I was doing anything I could think of,” Bogart said. “I was screaming at it, and then I used my car to flash my lights at it, I honked at it, and I was blaring the most obnoxious music I could find on the radio to try and get it to go away.”

The coyote picked up the Bogart’s cat twice, leaving visible marks and bloodstains on it.

“I remember running inside to my daughter and screaming, ‘Tom is outside dying!’ And then running back outside and seeing the coyote slowly walking towards Tom.”

Eventually, the coyote went away, and the cat was brought inside.

“Tom crawled underneath my car, and was scared senseless,” Bogart said. “It was practically scared to death.”

Bogart said she’s concerned about the coyotes as she lives very close to Kamiak, Harbour Pointe Middle School and Columbia Elementary.

“Kids walk alone to school everyday,” Bogart said. “If they’re alone and encounter one, then who knows what could happen?”

Bogart isn’t the only person who’s had encounters with coyotes. Other Mukilteo citizens have posted about seeing coyotes in the area, and have shared their concerns about what to do regarding their pets.

“I’m in the Mukilteo Moms Facebook page, and people post about it and ask about it,” Bogart said.

Peg Bohan, a Mukilteo park ranger, said that although they receive calls about instances such as Bogart’s, the numbers for coyote sightings are hard to track, and they often don’t find out about a coyote sighting in Mukilteo until much later.

“Call stats about coyote sightings/incidents are difficult to accurately track because a lot of times people don't call 911 to report a sighting, interaction or even a missing pet,” Bohan said. “Most of the time, officers will hear about a coyote sighting through social media platforms, word-of-mouth and, sadly, through deductive reasoning by seeing an increase in missing pet posters.”

Bohan did make it clear that coyotes are not always to blame when it comes to missing pets in Mukilteo.

“However, ‘missing pet’ posters don't always mean coyotes are the guilty party. Many other possibilities, such as natural predators (eagles or raccoons), vehicle encounters and other aggressive cats and dogs may be responsible for a missing pet not coming home.”

Bohan has heard calls regarding citizens seeing coyotes this year, and said it’s not a surprise due to a coyote’s ability to survive and adapt.

“I know of a few calls regarding human/coyote encounters in the last few months including people seeing them in their backyards, as well as in Big and Japanese gulches,” Bohan said. “This is not an uncommon or unexpected occurrence, especially considering that coyotes are incredible urban survivalists.

“Coyotes have been living with and among humans for at least the last 15,000 years. They have adapted their skills to living the urban lifestyle as well as we have.”

In regards to family pets getting attacked or taken away, Bohan said a lot of that has to do with the nighttime freedom that the pet’s owner allows.  Coyotes are then more likely to stay in that area.

“ Household pets that are allowed to roam freely, especially at night, can be easy prey for the opportunistic coyote,” Bohan said. “Once a coyote has found an area of easy meals, why would it go elsewhere? It'll stay in the area until the food source is gone or not as easily obtained.”

Bohan said that due to the high amount of rain earlier this year, there is a surplus of food for rodents, which goes up the food chain and, ultimately, there will be more coyotes and other predators that eat rodents.

“Coyotes are responding to their environment, and we're a part of that environment,” Bohan said. “As a ranger who often patrols the gulches during the course of my work week, and as a citizen living close-by who utilizes the gulches recreationally, I frequently get a chance to either see actual coyotes or signs of them … Coyotes like to be very conspicuous about where they've been and, essentially, leave their calling card behind for others to see.”

Bohan said that citizens concerned about their pets can do a few very simple things to keep them safe from coyotes in Mukilteo.

“I always empathize with fellow citizens who are concerned about themselves and their furry family members,” Bohan said. “Luckily, there are several things people can do to keep coyotes from becoming more of nuisance.

“Please keep Fluffy and Fido inside, especially from dusk to dawn. I keep my two cats indoors at all times. Also, don't feed or keep pet food outside so as to tempt hungry coyotes. Again, once they find an easy meal, coyotes will keep coming back.”

Bohan also said that if you encounter a coyote, the best thing to do is to try to scare it off.

“If you encounter a coyote, try to look bigger than you are,” Bohan said. “Pick up small children. Make noise and/or throw things at it if you have to, but try not to hurt them. They are doing what nature tells them to do.”

Despite many people allowing their dogs to run around off-leash at parks and trails, Bohan said coyotes can act on instinct and attack a dog that’s running free.

The coyotes also may try to lure dogs away from their owners, and end up seriously injuring or killing them, especially if there are coyote pups in the area.

“Coyotes are also known to lure dogs away and/or kill them if they get too close to the den,” Bohan said. “Imagine what would happen if Rover was off leash, went after a squirrel and found himself too close to a den. Females will be especially protective if she has pups.

“Use common sense and learn how to live with and enjoy close encounters of the wild kind,” Bohan said. “We're lucky to have these wildlife habitats in our urban backyards. Let's keep it that way!”

For more information about coyotes in the area, visit https://mukilteowa.gov/news/living-with-coyotes-in-mukilteo or contact local law enforcement.

 

#Former Mukilteo Beacon editor Nicholas Johnson contributed to this story.#

 

 

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