Wauwatosa coyote attacks kill two dogs, neighbors 'panicking'
Animal rights groups say hazing is better option than killing the wild animals
Following the second coyote attack on small pets in a matter of days, neighbors are past the point of concern — many are downright panicking, said Brenda Buchanan.
Buchanan, who lives on 119th Street in Wauwatosa near the area where two dogs were attacked by coyotes — one on Sept. 10 and a second Sept. 12 — said neighbors are refusing to walk the streets alone and resort to walking in large groups and carry sticks to fend off the wild animals.
"People are even afraid to let their kids play outside," said Buchanan, a dog owner.
"I'm such a wildlife person, but I want them gone," she said of the coyotes.
But animal protection organizations said hazing — rather than killing the animals — should be the measures of choice when it comes to preventing attacks on more pets.
Details of the attacks
The two attacks in Wauwatosa happened within three days of each other.
An attack around 6:40 a.m. Sept. 10 left a dachshund dead. The dog was just removed from its leash and was trotting near the 12200 block of Underwood Parkway with its owner when a coyote emerged from the woods and bit it.
Lt. Brian Zalewski of the Wauwatosa Police Department said the dog owner screamed and waved her arms in an attempt to free her pet, which the coyote eventually dropped.
The woman picked up the dog and ran along the parkway to a nearby house where she sought help.
But the coyote continued to follow her, police said.
"The coyote did not have a concern for the human interaction," Zalewski said. "Typically, coyotes are able to be scared away by humans."
Police said the pet was later euthanized at a local animal hospital.
The second attack in Wauwatosa came around 6:30 a.m. Sept. 12 near West Potter Road and North 119th Street. Sandra Hollander let her dog go outside the house into her yard shortly after dawn. She went back into her home and about three minutes later, she heard barking and a squeal from her miniature schnauzer rescue dog named Sparky.
"I looked out the window and all I see is the big tail of the coyote," she said. "He was on top of the dog."
Hollander said the coyote "seemed very bold" and "stared at her defiantly."
The dog later died at an animal hospital.
"He was very healthy, very sweet dog," she said of Sparky. "Very loving, very affectionate. Very well behaved."
It was the second time Hollander has seen a coyote near her home in the 13 years she's lived there. About 10 years ago she spotted a mangy coyote chasing a herd of deer.
Wauwatosa may not be the only community experiencing these attacks.
A dachshund was found dead around 4:30 p.m. Sept. 7 near 124th Street and Elmhurst Parkway in Elm Grove, although officials from the Elm Grove Police Department said it's not confirmed that the dog was killed by a coyote.
Coyote sightings are becoming a nearly daily occurrence for some Wauwatosa residents, Buchanan said.
Buchanan recalled a recent encounter with three coyotes one evening while walking her own pets. At first, the Wauwatosa resident thought the animals down the street were dogs, but once she got within 30 feet, she realized they were in fact coyotes and quickly returned home.
Referring to the animals as "urban coyotes," Buchanan said they're not scared off by humans and are periodically found relaxing on a neighbor's porch.
"They just stare at you," she said.
Preventing future attacks
Zalewski said no decision has been made yet on how to prevent future coyote attacks.
Police are working with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to create a solution, but conversations are still preliminary, he said.
Wildlife biologist with the DNR Dianne Robinson said a coyote attack on a pet is "pretty unusual," but does happen.
"It's a food source," Robinson said about small animals. "A small dog is about the same size as a rabbit or squirrel."
Robinson said she's involved in discussions with police about possible solutions to prevent future coyote attacks. Education about scare tactics, such as making loud noises and yelling in an attempt to make coyotes leave an area are one option. Lethal tactics such as trapping or sharp shooting are another, she said.
"In Wauwatosa, we'd rather see use of trapping if we wanted to go (with) the lethal option," she said.
Zalewski said officials are leaning away from the shooting option as it could create a dangerous situation in an urban area. He added police will "support any plan" from the DNR.
Lynsey White Dasher, director of Humane Wildlife Conflict Resolution with the Humane Society of the United States said there are there steps to deterring attacks: never leave pets unattended outside, remove attractive sources of food, and make coyotes feel uncomfortable around humans.
"In general, we do recommend hazing a coyote whenever you see one," she said. "When people don't react to them when they see a coyote, they start to lose their fear of people."
Dasher said trapping typically doesn't work to solve conflicts and won't remove coyotes from an urban area.
"The remaining coyotes will respond by having a surge in their population growth rates," she said, adding that more available resources for the remaining animals will result in more pups.
Dasher said coyotes usually live in a group with one breeding female. If one of the group's members is killed, the family could break up, disperse and breed even more.
"Communities that implement these programs end up with more coyotes than they had before," she said.
Attacks against humans are unlikely, Dasher said, adding there are less than 10 throughout the country per year. The swell in attacks in Wauwatosa "isn't an uncommon way for events to unfold," she said.
"This time of year is the coyote dispersal season," Dasher said. "Pups are venturing out and starting their own family groups."
Additionally, coyotes have learned Wauwatosa residents are leaving their pets unattended.
"Do not leave your pet outside, not even for a second," Hollander said. "I learned the hard way."
Preventing coyote problems
· Garbage should be stored in secure containers. Do not put meat scraps in compost piles.
· Remove bird feeders and outside pet food containers.
· Don't allow pets to run free, and keep a watchful eye on them.
· Provide secure shelters for poultry, rabbits and other outside pets.
· Clear wood piles, brush piles and other potential covers for coyotes.
· Don't leave small children outside unattended.
· Reinforce coyotes' natural fear of humans by turning on outdoor lights, making loud noises, throwing rocks, etc., when confronting one
· Consider fencing your yard.
· Encourage neighbors to follow same advice.
— Information taken from
the Wisconsin DNR
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