Reader report: Anti-coyote vigilantism?

Just in from Lina:

Yesterday I was walking in Fauntleroy Park, and the entrance by the YMCA had a handwritten note alerting walkers in the park that the writer had found small bags of food in the park and this has been a method of spreading poison.

I assume that it is intended for wild animals or coyotes but often this poison/food gets ingested by pets. Either way – it is concerning to me that someone would set out poison bait – for any animals. Over the years I have also seen similar warnings in the Junction too.

Lina wonders if anyone else has heard of or seen anything like this recently, while hoping that this is NOT a case of anti-coyote vigilantism. While we try these days to keep our personal opinions off this site, we have to say, we hope so too. We have posted reader reports about coyote sightings NOT to incite you to panic, but to inform you, and so that anyone who still allows pets to roam loose outside — against experts’ advice (coyotes are far from the only threat) — might reconsider. And as an FYI, if you think you know of a coyote in a situation that is truly a danger to someone or something, King County Animal Control says they’re not the people to call — they would fall under the jurisdiction of the state Fish and Wildlife Department — which has some excellent information, including coyote myth-debunking, on this webpage.

34 Replies to "Reader report: Anti-coyote vigilantism?"

  • Jill January 14, 2008 (9:21 am)

    This is really upsetting, and I’m glad to know about it, thanks WSB and Lina. I’ll keep an eye out for them in Lincoln Park, too. If one comes across such a bag, does anyone know the best way to handle it? I would be inclined to remove it, but should the police be notified?

  • Delivery Dude January 14, 2008 (9:44 am)

    Truly upsetting. I understand they got the food from Yen Wor.

  • Michael January 14, 2008 (10:12 am)

    To Lina:
    PLEASE put another note where you found that one, stating that you have alerted the authorities over the illegal placement of hazardous substances in public areas.
    You might also want to call the Seattle Police non-emergency line and the Parks Department, because the poison could also be a danger to humans.

  • ESEW January 14, 2008 (11:07 am)

    This sort of thing happened in Portland a few summers back, when there was a big fuss about the city parks being opened to off-leash dog areas. Some dogs were poisoned and died, if I recall correctly. I don’t think they ever did find the culprit, but we all stayed out of the parks with our dogs for a month or so.

  • dj January 14, 2008 (12:47 pm)

    We live next to Fauntleroy Park, and since August 2007 have found coyotes in, or close to, our yard 7 or more times. We’ve heard them howling (sounds like approximately 4 – 6 of them) in the park 3 to 4 times a week, day and night, for the past two years. At this point, our cats are keep indoors at all times, except when we can go out with to supervise. Our backyard is fenced for our dog, but we don’t leave him out long, due to worry the coyotes will hop the fence and take him — he’s 25 lbs. and wouldn’t back down from a fight. Our immediate neighbors have lost, all told, 4 pet cats to these vermin. We keep a pellet rifle close to the door and have used it often since September to try and dissuade the coyotes from coming around, and we’ve had some success, having hit them 3x. But the idea of poisoned food left at trailheads is anathema, as many people allow their dogs off leash in the park; plus, we are rather fond of the racoons that roam here. As long as there is a ready supply of food (i.e. cats), the coyotes are probably here to stay.

  • Jessica January 14, 2008 (1:10 pm)

    Just another great reason to keep your cats indoors (in addition to indoor animals being healthier and having longer lifespans).

  • vincent January 14, 2008 (1:48 pm)

    Coyotes aren’t vermin, they were here before you were, and will be here long after you have gone. Cats don’t belong outside period, becoming a snack for a wild animal is the least nuisance they can cause. If your dog is under the size recommended by the fish and game department, it probably doesn’t belong outside either. Pets are your responsibility, you contributed to their existence by purchasing them, and encouraging them being available for sale, take some responsibility for them.

    Poisoning of animals in a public place is cowardly passive aggressive act, especially when these treats are laced with food. Pets and children can be effected, as well as other wildlife that live in the park. The people who do these things to protect their property from the *nuisance* of animal populations of parks are at best idiots, and at the most basic short sided criminals.

    I hope the person(s) responsible for leaving these poisons get caught, assaulted and arrested. In that order.

    If you don’t like living near coyotes, move into a condo downtown.

  • CM January 14, 2008 (1:50 pm)


    Not to say that the coyotes aren’t responsible for cat loss in your area, but please also be aware that the racoons that you are fond of find domestic cats a ready source of food.

    You’ve got to watch out for both.

  • flipjack January 14, 2008 (1:54 pm)

    That’s disturbing too given that a Sasquatch has been sited in out local area.
    I would hate for that rare creature die of poisoning.
    Man, ya gotta be sick to be putting poison out in a park.

  • lina January 14, 2008 (1:57 pm)

    i am jealous of dj being able hear coyotes on a regular basis. i try not to romanticize them but i really have an affinity for what i see as one of the most adaptable wild animals. when i was living in utah, i could hear them all the time on my property (and the public land boardering out yard) my 50 dog would occasionally be out then and i think that they must have all roamed together.
    i certainly understand and support wanting to deter them from coming into a yard (as interacting with humans alot is not beneficial for them either) but i just hope that pellet gun is not shot with intent to injure- just ot deter.

  • Teresa P January 14, 2008 (2:00 pm)

    So sad and so stupid!

  • lina January 14, 2008 (2:02 pm)

    oops-just saw a typo in my last post-

    i meant my 50 pound dog-

    i also agree about racoons (even though i find them super cute)

    thier are many danger for our pets in the city, including cars and other human-induced harms, etc.- not just coyotes

  • Wayne January 14, 2008 (2:51 pm)

    My cats are outdoors only. Why? Because they urinate on all of our expensive furniture, walls, carpets, wood floors, childrens’ toys, etc etc etc … It’s them, or my stuff.

    Or another way of saying it, survival of the fittest, food chain, etc.


  • sm January 14, 2008 (3:17 pm)

    so, Wayne – better to leave your cats outdoors so they can urinate all over your neighbors expensive stuff they may have in their yards? nice!

  • grr January 14, 2008 (3:29 pm)

    yup..if you’re going to have a cat, don’t leave it outside to become part of the food chain, or road kill. The whole ‘feral cat’ thing gripes me to no end. I don’t get ‘cat people’ saying that ‘cats are supposed to live outside’. IT”S A PET. Treat it like one. Same with dogs.

    and..yeah..I’d actually LOVE to hear they coyotes sometime. Really. Mrs. Grr would be beside herself with joy.

  • grr January 14, 2008 (3:31 pm)

    oh yeah..for you Coyote lovers…

    fascinating story.

  • Bob Loblaw January 14, 2008 (3:47 pm)

    Um, Wayne: Why do you have cats?

    (Not that I wouldn’t mind trucking ours over to the park tonight …)

  • Kayleigh January 14, 2008 (3:55 pm)

    Wayne, people like you shouldn’t own pets.

  • Jessica January 14, 2008 (3:59 pm)

    Am I alone here in thinking that people who can’t deal with the more unpleasant aspects of having pets should consider not having them at all? Pets are not wild animals who should be left to fend for themselves. They need their owner’s care. This is the city, not a country farm.

  • vincent January 14, 2008 (4:07 pm)

    Wayne has cats because he is selfish, his ability to have some furry animal to pet on occasion trumps his neighbors ability to have yards free of cat feces, and urine.

    Thanks Wayne! I am sure your neighbors love you.

    [comment edited by WSB]

  • Jerald January 14, 2008 (4:26 pm)

    We also have foxes, which can prey on cats, I believe.

  • Teresa P January 14, 2008 (4:39 pm)

    Hey Wayne, maybe there is something wrong with your cats? Like maybe they are not neutered?

    Cats do not usually urinate on things unless they are sick or they are males spraying their territory.

    Or maybe your furniture is just too expensive. I agree that you should not have animals either, that is just plain cruel. Hopefully you do not have a dog on a chain as well.

  • GenHillOne January 14, 2008 (7:13 pm)

    I didn’t see any “natural” repellents on the web site (like cougar droppings are supposed to keep deer out of your garden). Anyone heard of or had success with anything?

  • Melissa January 14, 2008 (7:38 pm)

    The thought of having a neighbor capable of such reckless behavior profoundly unnerves me. I live next to Faunterloy Park and regularly walk there with my children and dog. I’m left wondering which of my neighbors has such a broken moral compass and sense of entitlement as to not only break the law but to endanger any and all carnivores (cats included) in this precious park.
    The risk from diseases such as Toxoplasmosis, borne in cat feces, far outweighs that posed by coyotes.
    Our neighborhood has so many stray cats that defecate in my yard and flower-beds that during my wife’s pregnancy; she had to give up gardening. Still, I never considered harming these animals. Think of the outrage if I took to using a pellet gun to scare off my neighbors’ cats or far worse poisoning their cats, even those exclusively on my property.
    The cowardly individual responsible for these acts needs to be put on notice that cash rewards will be offered for information leading to their arrest and prosecution should any coyotes or pets be found to have been harmed by this sickening and sad behavior.

  • Jan January 14, 2008 (8:39 pm)

    grr…thanks for the link to that story about Charlie the coyote…he’s a beautiful animal….wow…

  • Shannon January 14, 2008 (9:09 pm)

    Melissa — I also live very nearby the park….and completely agree with your opinion. We have many pets, but also understand that we need to respect the animals who were here before us and will be here long after us (see vincent’s comment above). Yes, sometimes this creates additional “headaches” for us (e.g., keeping cats indoors when they sometimes scratch furniture and pee on things). I would rather deal with that than think we have the right to kill another animal. Imagine a day when you are reading a story book to your child about wild animals…such as coyotes….and they are extinct. That will be a very sad day. Can we all just try to respect the planet??

  • grr January 14, 2008 (11:31 pm)

    you’re welcome, Jan.

    and..little chinese secret..sprinkle a little mustard powder in your flower garden. stray kitties stay VERY far away once they get a whiff.

  • Sage K January 15, 2008 (12:25 am)

    I find the thought of poison and reference to coyotes as vermin disturbing. I grew up on a farm with far more animals then just pets who could have been coyote prey (along with raccoons, foxes, cougars and the occasional bear) yet we never had a single problem due to the fact that since we new our property was in there home range we took steps, ie.the time, to protect our animals and the coyotes by making sure that the animals they would be interested were locked up at night and not leaving ready food sources out.

    dj: if your having such a problem with our wonderful local wildlife perhaps you need to try a new approach. Try adding an electric fence to your yard or spraying vinegar water at them. Sometimes they get used to a deterrent enough that it no longer deters them. And hey if you hate it that much you could always move to the middle of downtown to spare you from the horrors of wildlife.

    Wayne: people like you should not have pets. he whole purpose of a domestiated pet animal is for you to take care of it and if you can’t do that then you have no business having one. If your cats “spray” then perhaps your the problem are the problem are they fixed? Perhaps their food is irratating their bladder, etc. normals cats do not spray just for the fun of it.

    *fyi to all you people with cats that have problems with furniture being scratched, you can easily trim your cats claws just like you do your own nails. You can pick up some nail trimmers for a few dollars in the pet section of most stores. Just spread your cats paws are snip the excess and sharp tips off. I have two indoor only apt. cats and it works like a charm*

  • JenV January 15, 2008 (6:58 am)

    Sage K- you make it sound so easy! You should come over and trim my kitty’s claws next time. ;)
    / affixes another band aid to cat scratch

  • Cheyenne January 15, 2008 (9:34 am)

    What few foxes we have left won’t stand a chance if people leave poison out. Disgusting.

  • m January 15, 2008 (12:34 pm)

    Hmmm, I wish trimming my cats nails were that easy. I have tried before and I thought my neighbors would call the police with all the wailing and crying my cat made because she sounded very human instead of cat-like. JenV- the vet at Jefferson Square is amazing with trimming nails on nervous kitties. My cat is one of the worst patients they’ve ever seen (I’ve asked) and they get it done with no problems. I’ve put the double-sided sticky tape on the sofa to prevent her from scratching that between her ‘manicure’ appointments. It’s not that noticeable and does the trick.

  • Jiggers January 15, 2008 (2:41 pm)

    You guys sound like children.

  • Sage K January 15, 2008 (5:08 pm)

    JenV and m

    I don’t have much of a problem but then I’ve been doing that to my cats since they were kittens. They do complain about the back feet, but I just ignore them and get it done.

    I put my cat on my lap and then kinda clamp my left arm to their body and hold the paw I wish to trim with my left hand. I use my right hand to trim. When doing the front paws it kinda boxes them. There is no real easy way to do the back ones. I just curl them up in a ball so their like leaning back into me and do it real quick. They then walk/run away all annoyed and head straight to the scratcher to tell me what they think of it.

    I really only have to do it about 1-2 months. Depends on how fast they resharpen them.

  • Susan Michaels February 3, 2008 (11:02 pm)

    Hi all! We (Pasado’s Safe Haven) just issued a $5000 reward leading to the arrest, prosecution, and conviction of whoever is tainting food or treats in parks in West Seattle. Mohawk, one of 1200 dogs and cats we rescued in New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina, was adopted by a W. Seattle woman. He went without food or water for 14 days when we found him. He had such severe mange he had NO hair (hence the name “Mohawk”).

    Well, his guardian walked him through Fauntleroy Park and hours later was at an ER hospital. Days of intensive treatment saved his life. He ate something there that almost killed him.

    We need information re: details about what people have seen, heard, found. Has anyone picked up tainted treats and had them tested? Have you heard of anyone elses dog becoming ill? Can we contact them? Pasado’s Safe Haven is the only cruelty investigative resource in the Northwest (besides governmental animal control), so we’d love to receive any tips. Thanks so much. Call Kim Koon, Pasado’s Humane Investigator at 206-300-7218. Thank you! And be careful with your babies!
    Susan Michaels, Founder, Pasado’s Safe Haven

    [WSB note: As previously reported here, what happened to Mo happened in Westcrest Park, not Fauntleroy.]

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