Local wildlife authorities are urging people to be careful while hiking this time of the year, especially when they are with dogs, as it is coyote denning season, and the wild canines can be protective of their pups.
Hailey resident Leslie Andrews said she and a friend, Michele Urbani-Puluti, were walking on Quigley Road near Quigley pond on Thursday, May 29, with two dogs when they heard a coyote barking and howling on the hillside to the north of the road. Andrews said that at first, the coyote was too far away to see, but they soon spotted it as it was moving down toward the road. It then headed toward them along a trail that runs parallel to the road.
“It started loping after us, then it started running faster and faster,” she said.
Andrews said the coyote got to within 50 to 80 feet of them.
She said she and Urbani-Puluti also started running, expecting to leave the coyote behind. However, it continued to follow them.
“It was pretty scary,” Andrews said. “I’ve been hiking in Idaho for a long time and this was the first time I’ve ever felt threatened by an animal.”
Andrews said Urbani-Puluti called 911 on her cell phone, but before any authorities arrived, the two were able to flag down a car and get a ride back to the parking area at the start of the dirt road. She said that by the time they were picked up, she could no longer see the coyote.
Another Hailey resident had an encounter with coyotes in the same area in early May. Trina McNeal said she was walking her cairn terrier-poodle mix, Lulu, near the pond when Lulu went to investigate a rocky area on the hillside. McNeal said she suddenly heard Lulu yelp and then saw her being tossed into the air and heard coyotes howling. McNeal screamed and Lulu somehow got away.
“If I hadn’t been there, she would have been hauled off,” McNeal said.
McNeal pointed out that in this case, Lulu was messing around with the coyotes.
“They didn’t come down to us,” she said.
McNeal said Lulu was treated by a veterinarian for three bites on her hind leg. She said Lulu appears to still be suffering from the incident psychologically.
“Now she steps away from crowds,” she said. “She’s not nearly as social.”
Ross Winton, nongame wildlife biologist for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s Magic Valley Region, said coyotes dig dens in early spring and stay there with their pups into early summer.
“That’s when they tend to be more aggressive and more territorial,” he said. “Another dog in the area can be perceived as a potential threat to the den.”
Winton said coyotes with pups need more food than usual, and can also view dogs as competitors.
He said coyotes sometimes use an ambush technique, in which one member of a pair lures a dog away from its owner to a spot where the other coyote is waiting, and they both then attack the dog.
Blaine County Animal Control Officer Paul Ramm urged people to comply with the county leash law, which requires pets to either be on a leash or to be within 10 feet of the owner and under verbal control. Ramm said the ordinance apples to all areas of the county, including land managed by the U.S. Forest Service and BLM.
Greg Moore: firstname.lastname@example.org