West Seattle coyotes: Resident warns you to heed the ‘don’t let your pet out alone’ advice

Almost two weeks ago, we wrote about coyote-avoidance advice from an expert: A federal agent who is paid to investigate coyote-neighborhood conflicts, and sometimes to very quietly take lethal action.

Don’t even let your dog out into your yard alone, he warned, let alone let your cat roam the neighborhood, unless you are well aware it is putting them in the path of potentially deadly harm. (Not just from coyotes – raccoons, cars, other dogs/cats, you name it.)

If you still don’t believe him, listen to the story an Admiral resident contacted us to share. (The resident did not want to be identified.)

The resident says that a family dog was attacked by at least one coyote, while in a fenced yard in their Belvidere-area neighborhood.

Not a little dog, either – the 62-pound border collie mix on the left. The resident’s spouse was home when it happened more than a week ago and did not see the attack, but the diagnosis was made by the size and spacing of puncture wounds, and they were told that the number of bites suggested multiple coyotes because, “It would be rare for them to attack a large dog on their own.” The resident tells the story:

The attack happened just before dusk. … Our 95 lb. Shepherd charged to help the Collie and likely saved his life. My Collie has 15-18 puncture wounds on his throat, neck, back, and sides. This attack came three weeks after coyotes killed our cat in our yard. After our cat was killed, we were only letting the dogs out in the fenced yard together and never after dark without us. In fact, I would accompany them after dark to do their business with a big stick in my hand.

(Wildlife experts) explained that this was clearly a territorial attack and that my dog is extremely lucky to be alive. They said that coyotes attack to kill, unlike most domestic dogs who fight for rank. The coyotes often dig under the fence and can jump a 7-foot fence, so building a bigger fence will not protect against another attack. I am taking the advice of the experts and only taking my dogs out on leash, even in our fenced yard.

The perception is that coyotes will only kill cats and small dogs at night. This is not true. This was a big dog, in a fenced yard, before dark and with a larger dog nearby.

The resident says a call to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife led to a reference to the federal Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services division – the employer of the agent who contacted us to get out the “don’t provide food sources, alive or otherwise” advice – but this Admiral resident insists they are not in favor of getting a coyote killed as a result. They just want people to know that “don’t let your pet out alone” means exactly that: “I know some people will get riled up but I think most people would appreciate to know so they can take steps protect their pets. I only wish I would have known.” Their dog is healing, though the bites were compounded by an infection and required antibiotics. Treatment has cost them more than $800 so far, and has led them to a lot of knowledge they wish they hadn’t needed to uncover: “I now know more about coyotes than I ever wanted to.”

58 Replies to "West Seattle coyotes: Resident warns you to heed the 'don't let your pet out alone' advice"

  • Raindog July 27, 2013 (7:49 pm)

    I’m so sorry that this dog and it’s people had to go through this! I’ll definitely be watching my dog in our yard MUCH more closely, and won’t be letting her go out alone. I want her to be safe, but to also let our neighborhood wildlife live in peace. They deserve to be here too. Thanks for the warning!

  • Jtm July 27, 2013 (7:50 pm)

    I realize that coyotes are pretty much everywhere, but can we get more specifics on the location? Glad that both dogs are OK and healing. How frightening!

    • WSB July 27, 2013 (8:10 pm)

      Belvidere – so, east Admiral. Meant to add that –

  • wundrgrrrl July 27, 2013 (8:16 pm)

    Very scary and I hope your pup recovers well. Wondering what part of Admiral this was? Is it near one of the parks or greenways? We also have dogs in a fenced area, in Admiral, so this hits a little too close to home!

  • wssz July 27, 2013 (8:16 pm)

    I have been studying behavior of several wildlife species for decades, and strongly endorse the recommendations of both the federal Wildlife Dept. agent and this border collie’s human family.

    Killing a few individual coyotes with the goal of reducing numbers generally has the opposite effect, causing them to increase the numbers of their offspring and move into the territory of the deceased animals. It also creates openings for increased numbers of raccoons and other animals because the balance is off between the species.

    If there was one problem coyote, then it would make sense to destroy that individual animal. However, the behavior of our coyotes is normal.

    Many/most of us know just enough about these interrelationships to inflict harm and create imbalance. The more I’ve learned, the more I’ve come to respect just how complex the balance of our web of life really is.

  • kumalavula July 27, 2013 (8:18 pm)

    as much as i thought i was educated about the coyotes we co-habitate with here, i had no idea they can jump a 7′ fence!!!!
    that makes me rethink letting my dog out at night alone in our newly re-fenced yard.

  • DSC July 27, 2013 (8:38 pm)


  • Eugene July 27, 2013 (9:47 pm)

    What is the coyote’s motivation for jumping a fence to attack a large dog? Seems like a risky move, unless it/they had a good reason.

  • Snowflake July 27, 2013 (9:48 pm)

    So if a human is with the dogs what are we to do? Do they scare easily? How do we fend them off? I always assumed we were safe behind our fence. Yikes!

  • furor scribendi July 27, 2013 (10:29 pm)

    I’m sorry, that’s the limit, the straw that broke the camel’s back! An attack this brazen for the second time in the same yard is too much. These coyotes are now so used to our neighborhood environment, and feel so confident and not scarred by human presence, that they need to be controlled and their numbers reduced before someone is attacked while defending their own pets. It’s time to contact the city and demand assistance to eliminate these wild unpredictable aggressive predators.

  • pjmanley July 27, 2013 (10:34 pm)

    If large dogs are considered “food sources” that must be kept inside, then kids aren’t safe in their own yards, and human beings are next. Let the overdue coyote eradication begin. If the Raccoon population swells, we can deal with that next. But there is no balance when coyotes have no predators. Time to unleash the humans.

  • miws July 27, 2013 (10:34 pm)

    Snowflake, the advice commonly given, is to wave your arms, look big, and make noise to scare them off.


    This doesn’t just go for if they are in your yard, and you feel they are an imminent threat. If you’re outside, and see one across the street, or whatever, scare them away. The idea is to try to make them afraid of humans.



  • me July 27, 2013 (10:54 pm)

    Those that say we need to coexist with coyotes are naive at best. Its just a matter of time before a child gets attacked here.

  • themightyrabbit July 27, 2013 (10:57 pm)

    I woke one night to have a couple coons thru the ‘dog’ door eating the cat food in the kitchen. quite the awakening. took another 1/2 hour to scare the entire pack of 6 coons off my property. then they came back. creatures of habit. having to keep the cats indoors and block the dog door. such a pain to deal with.

  • Bill V July 27, 2013 (11:21 pm)

    It’s ridiculous and insulting that the advice is to keep large dogs inside with a fenced yard — this is a city. People don’t put up with this from bears and cougars, so why coyotes?

  • flyntheointment July 28, 2013 (12:14 am)

    The nut jobs provoke the nutters via digital megaphone. And the 7ft fence is sensationalism ignoring can, will and must.

  • Mike July 28, 2013 (12:26 am)

    sorry the dog is hurt
    Bill V, my friend recently took a pic of a black bear in their back yard. You’d be amazed at what you can live with. I had bobcats, deer, raccoons, coyotes, the occasional cougar roam my neighborhood as a kid.

  • joan bateman July 28, 2013 (12:49 am)

    It is possible to eliminate the more brazen, unintimidated coyotes so that the remaining ones are afraid of humans.

    To continue to allow the fearless animals to live put adults and children at risk.

    They are killing for food and to protect their young….and they know no boundaries.

    Read what has happened across the nation and in Canada to know that these animals are not your friendly little backyard critter. They will take you out. So be advised when you take you pets for a walk. People in West Seattle, White Center other close in neighborhoods have had animals stolen out from underneath them while walking them on a leash. Not pretty.

    Fifthteen years ago, West Seattle did not have this problem in our woods and neighborhoods. In that short time, this has become a pervasive problem not only in West Seattle but across our nation. I am advised that it occurred around the time that the laws changed to inhibit killing and trapping the animals.

    Seems sad that we can not enjoy our beautiful backyards, that we pay a lot of money for and taxes to maintain, free of fear.

    Very sad.

    Be even sadder if a child gets killed because we do have options to control the coyote population and we didn’t exercise them.

  • Mike July 28, 2013 (1:17 am)

    “and they know no boundaries” WRONG! They know boundaries, you have to set them and not invite them to stay. People leaving garbage out unsecured is inviting them. People letting their cats roam outside is inviting them. People not waving their hands, making loud noise and trying to spook them when they see them is inviting them. People leaving cat and dog food outside is inviting them.
    It is a fact you cannot eliminate coyotes from urban environments. You can try to shoot them, you can try to relocate them, but they will still be here. The bigger problem will be you might get rid of a few that others were not expanding in numbers because of and then you have even MORE coyotes here. It’s been tried before, the research has been done. It’s not a new thing, you’re not dealing with something nobody else has dealt with. The key things that prevent coyotes and raccoons from hanging out near our homes and pets is the key things people are being too stubborn to do…’it’s my right…blah blah blah’. Well, then too damn bad if fluffy gets eaten, your rights have now killed your pet.

  • Talaki34 July 28, 2013 (5:29 am)

    I am very sorry to hear the dog was attacked. There are ways that everyone can protect their kids, animals and property. Educating ourselves and our kids is the best deterrent.

    The following articles overlap, but they provide insight about coyotes, simple measures we can all implement to lessen contact and proper yard exclusion methods.






    Fencing to help keep out coyotes. http://www.coyoteroller.com/ Remember to secure the bottom area too. Coyotes are great diggers.

  • Wes July 28, 2013 (5:56 am)

    Curious to know what time of day/night this attack took place? I always do a sweep of the yard if I’m getting up in the pre-dawn hours before I’ll let me dog out, but in the middle of the day, I assume the only thing he’ll find waiting for him is the neighbor’s cat.

  • anonyme July 28, 2013 (9:38 am)

    I’m not saying that the attack wasn’t coyotes, or suggesting that the dog owner is incorrect. It does seem to me that a number of assumptions have been made, and I think it’s important that we know exactly what happened before jumping to conclusions. The attack was not witnessed by anyone. Who “diagnosed” the bites not only as coyote, but from multiple animals? Is such a diagnosis possible, and if so, with what kind of training? It sounds like the “wildlife expert” based his or her comments on the version told, not from actual evidence.

    If this was really an attack by a ‘pack’ of coyotes, that’s something to be concerned about. The solution is complex. I do think we need we need to be sure what we’re dealing with first, before taking any action – preventative action is a no-brainer.

    • WSB July 28, 2013 (10:19 am)

      Thanks, anonyme; I did actually go back and forth with followups with the dog’s owner via e-mail for two days before publishing anything, and that’s how we at least got to this version – with attributions and qualifiers. (They sent photos of puncture wounds but there didn’t seem to be value in running those, so I just asked for a photo of the dog “in happier times.”) I did find it noteworthy that they were very insistent on making it known that they are not out to get the coyote(s) hunted/killed, just wanting to let people know that you really should take the “could even happen in your yard” warning seriously – TR

  • wsguy July 28, 2013 (10:34 am)

    I would be interested to hear from a real estate professional if we now need to list our backyards as too dangerous to let small children or pets play in alone on Form 17? I know if I had a small child or beloved pet and found out that Homes in West Seattle had backyards that we’re not considered “safe” to play in I would consider another location. I’d also like a real estate agent to weigh in on what the coyote problem does to our property values in West Seattle.

    • WSB July 28, 2013 (10:56 am)

      There are coyotes all over the city, region, state, country, so it’s a misinterpretation to consider this a “West Seattle problem.” You just happen to have a news organization here who reports on them in something that does NOT resemble the occasional hysterical TV-news-style “wild pack of coyotes marauding in local neighborhood” vein (which erupts once a year on average). The vast majority of coyote reports we’ve published (you can go back more than five years in our archive: http://westseattleblog.com/category/coyotes ) are simply sightings, NOT anything like this – TR

  • Ray West July 28, 2013 (11:32 am)

    This is indeed a city-wide problem, not restricted to West Seattle. As I recall, over the years, a bear once made it into the Ravenna ravine area, more than one cougar has been in Discovery Park, and so on. Those incidents are rare, but coyotes, as well as raccoons, possums, and foxes have always been here and are here to stay. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few bobcat or lynx are also around. Just because you live in the city, does not mean you’re isolated from nature.

  • anonyme July 28, 2013 (11:41 am)

    Thanks, WSB. I appreciate your objective, professional reporting of this issue.

  • evergreen July 28, 2013 (12:18 pm)

    We do NOT need to protect a coyote population within the city — relocate or eradicate them! My kids, your kids, human beings are at increasing risk as the coyote population grows. Now I don’t even feel safe in my own yard with my small children. We are LUCKY that a child has thus far not been harmed in West Seattle. Pure luck. But if we don’t remove the threat and a child is harmed, in retrospect we will realize our lack of action is stupid. Pure idiocy.

  • cj July 28, 2013 (2:48 pm)

    It sounds like people are getting heated up to do something stupid and illegal. We should maybe think before we encourage things that we cant undo. Was it reported to authorities? What was the result of an investigation? Bite mark radius as proof by what expert? This is not a place of group mob authority so maybe remember that you are in a large city that has authorities in place. I had a neighbor once with a roaming tom cat that would do so much damage to other animals you could see their fur flying from a half a block away, sent one of my kids to the hospital. I had a malamute once that got the hunting bug[cant be undone in dogs], ripped open rabbit cage tops on high legs after leaping on them and had rabbits and chickens for breakfast.

  • TLM July 28, 2013 (3:02 pm)

    Good advice for folks in “wolf country” too.

  • furor scribendi July 28, 2013 (3:29 pm)

    The ‘heated up and stupid’ course of action we should all take is calling, writing, texting, and generally bothering our elected officials to act on our behalf to eradicate coyotes from our city. No shooting, trapguns, or other illegal reactions allowed. Keep taking pictures, collecting data, and forwarding to authorities for action! Let’s get ‘er done!!

  • CB July 28, 2013 (3:50 pm)

    It’s a community problem and there is a community solution. Follow the directions on the links to be vigilant, remove food and keep compost piles covered, keep cats indoors, and when you see a coyote – make it afraid of you.

    As others have pointed out – eradication DOES NOT WORK. You will not get all of them. They will come back – likely in greater numbers. Racoons will be more rampant. Let the ecosystem balance itself and do your part to keep them away from your part of the community and encourage the rest of the community to do theirs.

  • a July 28, 2013 (4:25 pm)

    Joan Bateman- can you explain to me where you have heard of coyotes taking people’s pets from them while they were on a walk? I have never heard that before so if you know of some instances that are documented can you tell me where to find that? That’s crazy if they are actually taking people’s pets from right in front of them like that.

  • Joe Szilagyi July 28, 2013 (4:43 pm)

    I agree with what someone said above. If they’re willing to now hop fences to attack a SIXTY POUND DOG IN THE DAY TIME, then should children not be allowed alone for even 30 seconds in a yard for fear of an attack?

    I will go so far as to say it’s time for a cull.

    When coyotes a couple years ago attacked some poodle in Magnolia when we lived there, the city and state came in and within days that pair of coyotes were shot dead. Why are we even vaguely concerned about the well-being of the West Seattle coyotes? It’s stupid.

    Ecologically they are a “Least concern” animal for conservation status and the last time I checked had zero Federal protections. I’m also personally very displeased with this Federal ‘control expert’ and the unwillingness to share details with the public on events like the “very bad” event that happened down in the Seaview area recently?

    These people aren’t the NSA. They have no right to keep these details ‘restricted’. I’m pretty displeased by all of this. I’m thinking it’s a bit overdue for the city, county and state to take SOME action. This is West Seattle, with a population density of 6,585 people per square mile. If the coyotes stay out of sight and don’t cause trouble, that’s one thing.

    Hopping fences in broad daylight and attacking 60-plus pound animals within six miles of downtown Seattle is something else altogether.

    • WSB July 28, 2013 (7:12 pm)

      Joe, just to be clear. That wasn’t Seaview. It was Seola (a greenbelt-and-water-bounded neighborhood on a south edge of the city/county boundary), and the circumstances were reported here in a couple of stories. What this agency does not readily disclose is whether it did wind up killing one or more animals. They will not notify the neighborhood, they told us, if they are out trapping or shooting or whatever. This is a very controversial federal agency and it would seem as if openness would serve them better than secrecy. Just one week ago, they were the subject of a New York Times editorial saying as much:
      I was surprised to hear directly from Aaron the agent recently regarding their repeated advice for the neighborhoods, which is the same advice we have been publishing at the end of coyote-sighting (etc.) reports for five years. But I also had heard him present that advice to the Highland Park Action Committee, as mentioned in my previous story, and I would like to believe they really do want to help people avoid losing their pets, let alone having anything else happen. – TR

  • Joe Szilagyi July 28, 2013 (4:46 pm)

    And no, no one should be running around the green belts blasting coyotes in a private fashion. But for goodness sake, there IS precedent to cull out coyotes in the city when things get hairy. There is zero downside to that beyond cost. Emotions have no place in this. I say this as a more or less pretty die-hard animal rights person. We’re the apex life form around here — not them.

  • anonyme July 28, 2013 (6:21 pm)

    Let’s eradicate stupidity first.

  • datamuse July 28, 2013 (6:33 pm)

    Indeed, Ray West, I hike and camp a lot and see way more wildlife here in West Seattle than out in the wilderness.
    Joan Bateman, I saw my first West Seattle coyote 13 years ago. They’ve been here for awhile.

  • Catbird July 28, 2013 (6:49 pm)

    We had an early morning flight on the 25th and were up at 2:30 am and I saw one coyote running down the street going south on 36th ave s and we are between Hinds and Manning. Stay safe everyone.

  • CB July 28, 2013 (7:50 pm)

    Regarding “culling” the West Seattle packs – facts are stubborn things…


    Take away the food, keep your garbage contained, and make it your mission to scare the hell out of them when you see them. Problems don’t have to have complicated answers.

  • Robert July 28, 2013 (7:57 pm)

    Many people say to simply keep your cats indoors, but it isn’t always that simple. They are animals and some cats are determined to get out. Taking a constructive approach, here’s a few tips for keeping cats indoors.

    I keep a squirt bottle by my door to back the cats off when I’m leaving. I often leave it outside for when I come back. When I leave and enter my house are prime times for my cats to try to dash outside.
    I also try to time feeding them with when I am leaving. While they are eating, they are far from the door. If I have to carry something to the car, I also do that while they are eating.
    I also use food to get them back in. You don’t have to feed them again. Just a few nuggets in the dish are enough to get my rowdies back inside.

  • A Nearby Resident July 28, 2013 (8:50 pm)

    A neighbor at our other home (not in Seattle) had a coyote grab her maltese on the leash and kill it. Snapped its neck. She got it away from the coyote, but the poor little thing was already dead. They WILL, indeed, try to get a small dog on a leash sometimes.
    Also, they do attack larger dogs than you would expect. They often use the lure and gang up on method. Luring the dog away from its safe place and into a waiting pack.

  • evergreen July 28, 2013 (9:18 pm)

    CB — I read your link and found t to be valuable information. We need to implement a hazing program similar to the other cities mentioned. How do we implement this?

    • WSB July 28, 2013 (9:41 pm)

      Hazing has been part of the link we have shared probably 50 times, FYI:

      “If a coyote ever approaches too closely, pick up small children immediately and act aggressively toward the animal. Wave your arms, throw stones, and shout at the coyote. If necessary, make yourself appear larger by standing up (if sitting) or stepping up onto a rock, stump, or stair. The idea is to convince the coyote that you are not prey, but a potential danger.

      Where coyote encounters occur regularly, keep noisemaking and other scare devices nearby. A starter pistol can be effective; so can a vinegar-filled super soaker or a powerful spray of water from a hose. Where pyrotechnics are out of the question, construct a “clapper” (Fig. 5). A solid walking stick, pepper spray, or paintball gun are powerful deterrents at close range.”

  • evergreen July 28, 2013 (11:07 pm)

    No, I know that info, WSB. What I mean is that there needs to be a publicly implemented program with education, similar to the cited programs in Vacouver, California, and Colorado. Something beyond just this blog, though the blog is an invaluable service.

  • a July 29, 2013 (12:23 am)

    Are coyotes really coming up to people on their walks and attacking their pets? If so, then that is obviously an imminent danger to people and thus our government needs to act on our defense and eradicate the problem. I’m all for wildlife and it is one of the many things I love about west seattle but when the wildlife becomes a threat, that threat needs to be handled.

  • evergreen July 29, 2013 (1:32 am)

    Another good site for info. Apparently there are a few cases of humans being attacked, including two mall child who were bit in 2006 in Bellevue (paragraph “solutions to problems”). Also, this states that trapping/killing coyotes can instill fear of humans in the entire population, and is thus effective (“lethal control”):


    Thanks for the info, WSB. I need to attend community meetings.

  • G July 29, 2013 (9:34 am)

    There was an incident recently in LA where a young child was attacked by a coyote. Not an alarmist, but this is disturbing.


  • Karen July 29, 2013 (10:25 pm)

    I woke last night to find 2 full grown coyotes out looking for food (cats) in my back yard. I made growling noises that scared them right away and off they went. This is at the corner of Othello and 27th Avenue SW. There are always missing cat posters in our neighborhood. I just wanted people to be aware that they need to lock their cats up at night for safety. We unfortunately lost our cat, Yoda, about 5 years ago to coyotes. We still miss him so much and don’t want other people to go through this same thing.

    I saw a coyote pup in my front yard about a month ago too. It looked to be in between a puppy and a full grown adult.

    Yes they can come out during the day and we have seen them at times around noon, but that is rare. They are usually spotted around 3am in our neighborhood.

    Please, please, take your pets inside (especially at night) if you love them.

    So sorry to hear about your dog. I didn’t think they would attack a dog that large. That’s very good to know.

  • Debbie July 29, 2013 (11:54 pm)

    I’m hearing more often of coyotes sightings in the Greater Seattle area. Living along a greenbelt in Puyallup, we had them running constantly & docile with our dogs in an unfenced yard, although we suspect them being behind the disappearance of our cat.
    Now living in a rural town in AZ., yotes are a common thing & sighting. On the residential streets, across playfields, along the outer fence line of dog parks @ dusk or across the highway. Lethal action isn’t even a consideration. One AM, 3 had gone over our wall- 2 cornered our lab/rott/boxer mix under our camp trailer, the sole 1 tried to grab our Chi, fortunately only left a wet side & light grazing.
    Its hard & sometimes painful to accept that they are only doing what is natural for them, hunting for survival as even a pack of domestics would do. People hunt as well; we can’t fault the yotes for living their instinct.

  • Tracy White July 30, 2013 (9:41 pm)

    Such fear.

  • anonyme July 31, 2013 (6:34 am)

    Again, there is NO evidence that coyotes were responsible for this attack, to which there were no witnesses. Nor do we have any information on the forensic qualifications of the “wildlife expert” who stated the bite mark radius was that of a coyote.

    I’m also a little suspicious that this is being reported by someone who lost a cat to a coyote a few weeks ago, put up flyers trying to rally neighbors into hiring a coyote hunter, and then denied it. The story may or may not have validity, but the source is unreliable and the story itself unverified. The hysteria around this issue is unwarranted; please, stick to the facts.

    • WSB July 31, 2013 (7:03 am)

      Anonyme, this is NOT the same person who put up the flyers to which you refer. And that is a fact.

  • anonyme July 31, 2013 (7:29 am)

    Sorry, it just seemed a very odd coincidence. So this is someone else whose cat was killed 3 weeks ago by coyotes? Is it one of the same group in the video?

  • evergreen July 31, 2013 (10:50 am)

    Suspecting a conspiracy theory about your neighbor and coyote reportings? Really? Come on.

  • anonyme July 31, 2013 (5:32 pm)

    Evergreen, I suggest you take out your dictionary (if you have one) and look up “coincidence” and “conspiracy”. I mentioned one, you seem obsessed with the other – as in, coyotes are taking over the world and must be destroyed. Not.

  • rob August 2, 2013 (3:34 pm)

    The law of the Wild West must prevail: Shoot first and ask questions later!!

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