Coyote gobbles Maple Ridge chihuahua

“Brazen” daylight appearances worry Thornhill resident

The teenager walked to the paddock to feed her horse, with the little chihuahua dogging her footsteps, as always.

The girl took a few stalks of hay off a bale for the horse, and then turned to go back to the house. Behind her, there was a screech.

Turning to look, she heard a second scream, and then saw the coyote, with the lifeless body of little Meana hanging out of its jaws.

“He nonchalantly trotted off, with our dog in his mouth,” said the teen’s mom, Clara Fawcett.

Fawcett wants other people who live in her area to be aware of the brazen varmint, who shows little fear of man, and who she believes is also responsible for the disappearance of her neighbour’s cat and possibly other pets.

She lives in the Thornhill area, near 102nd Avenue and 256th Street.

Fawcette says the canine is intimidating.

“He’s a fair size. I’ve got a pit bull that’s 80 pounds, and he’s bigger than her.”

More worrisome, he was “stalking” around her husband in the early afternoon, not scared away by noise, and only leaving when he threw rocks at it – a tactic which is actually right out of the Ministry of Environment playbook for dealing with coyotes.

“It floors me that he’s being this brazen.”

She advises people living in the area to keep an eye on their pets, and even their small children.

That might sound alarmist, as coyote attacks on humans are extremely rare, but they are becoming more frequent in recent years. There have been two recorded fatal coyote attacks. In 2009, Canadian folk singer Taylor Mitchell was fatally attacked by three coyotes while hiking.

In most cases of coyote attacks on humans, the animals lost their fear of man because they were being fed. It is an offence to feed dangerous wildlife, including coyotes.

The SPCA advises: If confronted by a coyote: yell, stamp your feet, look big, wave your arms and scare the coyote away. Kids, especially, need to know this.

The agency also advises people living in areas frequented by coyotes to minimize their pets’ interaction and attraction to them, by having them spayed or neutered.

The Conservation Officer Service advises that children should not be left unsupervised if a coyote is in the area.

Those concerned with an aggressive coyote are advised to keep a “deterrent” handy, and this could be rocks, sticks, banging pots and pans, pepper spray, or tin cans filled with rocks.

Waving your arms, shouting in an aggressive voice and throwing rocks are all recommended as ways to ward off a coyote. Never turn your back, and never run from an aggressive coyote, says the Ministry of Environment’s website. That is what wildlife experts believe was Taylor Mitchell’s fatal mistake.

Fawcette has goats, chickens and pets, and doesn’t want the coyote making a meal out of any more of the animals at the property. She has talked with a trapper, who said he can legally help her, but not until it’s open season on coyotes, on Sept. 10.

• Report aggressive coyote behaviour by calling 1-800-663-9453.

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