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Brazen coyotes menace Coeur d’Alene pets

Wade Williams holds his dog Grizzly near his home Coeur d’Alene on Thursday. Williams said Grizzly was attacked by a coyote Tuesday.
Wade Williams holds his dog Grizzly near his home Coeur d’Alene on Thursday. Williams said Grizzly was attacked by a coyote Tuesday.

Public agencies say they can’t help

Grizzly hadn’t been outside long when Wade Williams heard his 3-year-old dog “screaming and hollering” Tuesday night.

The Coeur d’Alene man immediately ran outside and saw his part-Pomeranian, part-Chihuahua just escaping the jaws of a coyote.

“There he is, breaking loose from the coyote in the yard,” Williams said. “There’s blood on the porch and everything.”

For several weeks, residents of Williams’ north Coeur d’Alene neighborhood have been keeping their dogs and cats inside due to regular coyote sightings. One couple said their dog was killed and half-eaten by a coyote outside their mobile home. Another woman said a coyote followed her and her dog on a walk Tuesday night.

The neighbors are looking for a public agency willing to address the problem but said they haven’t had any luck yet.

“The cops already told me I can’t shoot ’em,” said Williams, who trapped coyotes for cash growing up in West Virginia. “So I’m supposed to leave my dog out and let them eat him?”

The state Department of Fish and Game does not have “the expertise nor the funding source to try to deal with them,” said Craig Walker, the regional conservation officer. He said the agency has received a lot of calls from concerned neighbors and has issued news releases advising people on how to deal with coyotes. Ultimately, Walker said, it’s the landowners’ responsibility.

However, Walker said he’s never dealt with an urban coyote problem in 24 years with the department. He said the agency licenses commercial trappers to handle nuisance animals such as skunks and raccoons.

“The landowners are responsible for dealing with it, just like they would be if they had a skunk living under their house,” he said.

Residents have reported coyote sightings in neighborhoods all around Kootenai County’s solid waste transfer station on Ramsey Road. Solid waste director Roger Saterfiel said that when he first received calls from residents about a month ago, he called a trapper licensed by the state to see what it would take to get rid of the coyotes. However, Saterfiel said he has since decided not to pursue it because the coyotes are not on county property.

“Once I got the information, I decided it’s a no-win situation, so I’m not going to be involved,” Saterfiel said, explaining that people also get upset when wild animals are killed by public agencies. “They’re not living on my property, they only cross my property. It’s hard for me to accept responsibility for them.”

The Coeur d’Alene Police Department has received enough calls from residents that a crime analyst mapped the coyote sightings. The map shows eight sightings from April 6 to May 11 in the northwest quadrant of the city. Police Sgt. Christie Wood said calls about coyotes are not common.

“It isn’t something we typically deal with,” she said.

Licensed trappers Bill Haywood and Scott Dinger said Washington Initiative 713, which placed limits on trapping and selling animals captured in traps, is partly responsible for the overflow of coyotes. The initiative took effect in December 2000.

“A lot is directly related to Washington state becoming anti-trapping,” Dinger said. “Coyotes can travel 30 miles in a day. Over the past few years, you have the influx from Washington. You have an animal that’s usually in the wild and a community growing in size.”

None of that, however, helps Williams and his neighbors resolve their problem, Williams said. Grizzly usually goes outside by himself, at the end of a long leash tethered to the house, but no longer.

“The coyote followed him right up on the porch,” Williams said. “He stood right there on the sidewalk and looked at me. He was really aggressive.”