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Coyote presence concerns neighbors

Mon., Nov. 17, 2008

Animals prowling north Spokane kill pet cat

A north Spokane neighborhood was awakened Sunday morning around 4 a.m. to the gruesome sound of two coyotes killing and eating a family’s pet cat.

“I heard that ‘rowwrrr’ sound, like two cats fighting,” said Rich Silva, who lives at 2228 W. Olympic Ave., just three blocks north of Shadle Park. “By the time I peeked out, they were just mauling that cat. Unfortunately, I heard its last sounds.”

Two coyotes killed the cat, and a third showed up when they began eating it in Silva’s front yard, he said. Silva said he finally scared the animals off and recovered the remains of the cat, which had been the pet of neighbors Tony and Tricia Wichterman.

The Wichtermans got Sylvester, a 12-year-old long-haired black-and-white cat, when he was a kitten. Tricia Wichterman said Sylvester was a tomcat who liked to be outside at night.

Wichterman said the coyotes’ boldness concerned her. They stayed in the neighborhood for almost two hours and repeatedly returned to the site of their kill, even after the dead cat had been removed.

“What was nerve-racking was how healthy they looked,” Wichterman said. “They kept coming back. They kept sniffing my neighbor’s front yard to see where it went. It went on for a couple of hours.”

Sgt. Dan Rahn with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement said another cat was killed by a coyote near Audubon Park a few days ago.

Rahn said coyotes are common statewide and although they don’t usually wander so far into residential neighborhoods, they are opportunistic and will be drawn to any food source.

How they act, he said, depends on how they’re treated.

“The problem is some people leave pet food out and there’s people feeding them in different parts,” Rahn said. “We’ve told people, don’t feed coyotes and don’t leave cat and dog food out. You end up attracting skunks and coyotes and everything else. You want them to be scared of people.”

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