December 15, 2013 - 10:28 AM
SUMMERLAND - A conservation officer has killed one coyote and is hunting two more believed responsible for attacking a woman walking a dog Wednesday morning.
Conservation officer Sgt. Jim Beck was out in Summerland on Friday where the attack took place. He said he normally doesn't go after coyotes, but Wednesday's event called for direct intervention.
"Due to (their) aggressive behaviour it was warranted we come in and try to do something with them," Beck said although he is not after a population cull. "This is a very localized effort on this particular group of coyotes."
On Wednesday, Sarah James was walking a friend's labradoodle up Peach Orchard Loop Trail around 11 a.m. when three coyotes appeared. The normally shy and solitary hunters attacked as one pack, trying to get at the dog but James fended them off. The coyotes tore her jacket and drew blood in the attack, but James and her partner Lesley Field spared plenty of concern for the coyotes as well, perhaps anticipating the response from conservation officers. Neither Field nor James returned phone calls Friday.
But Beck says public safety still has to come first. He has killed one coyote and is chasing the others. He plans on using a device to simulate the sound a distressed rabbit or fawn makes to draw out another coyote. He'll then shoot it with a specialized rifle that fires a small, hollow-point bullet.
"If we can get one or more of the offending coyotes then the problem will probably resolve itself," he said. "There's quite a bit of concern when they start to group together like this. They form a bit of a bond and pack-like behaviour starts to emerge. They will tend to do things a single coyote on its own won't do."
He said there should be enough quail and other small mammals around to feed them but there are a lot of coyotes this year. He wouldn't offer a rough number but has heard many of them howling at night.
Beck suggested keeping dogs on a tight leash and be prepared to scare away any offending coyotes. If the dog is small enough then the owner should pick it up. He also suggested carrying a big walking stick and consider buying anti-bear or canine spray.
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