By David F. Rooney
Call him a trickster. Call him a varmint. Call him anything you want but be sure and remember that Mr. Coyote will gladly eat your dog and your cat. This may, in fact, be what’s happening to cats and small dogs throughout southern Revelstoke.
Cruise almost any community bulletin board or drive along any street in the Southside and Arrow Heights neighbourhoods and you are almost certain to see posters for missing pets. How many cats are missing? No one appears to have accurate numbers. However, the owner of one cat that has been missing from an Oscar Street trailer park said at least 10 were missing from that area alone.
Lisa Feuz of the Revelstoke and District Humane Society says that organization has received more than 20 reports of missing cats and she suspects the real total of victims is much higher.
“These are just the reports we’ve received,” she said. “There are probably many more missing cats out there.”
Most owners desperately hope that their beloved pets are simply lost and will somehow make their way home. But some are far more sanguine about it.
“The coyotes got him,” says Ian Brown, Manager of Resource Conservation for Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks, of his family cat, Kovo. “He’s been gone two months now. We told the kids he went on an adventure and hasn’t come back yet. But we suspect the coyotes got him.”
Brown said he and his wife, Otti, and their neighbours have seen coyotes in several parts of of Arrow Heights, sometimes in broad daylight. And one of their neighbours found them in his yard. These particular animals are believed to be part of a pack of between five and eight animals that has staked out the southern part of the city as their territory. Coyotes have also been heard across the Columbia River in the Big Eddy.
“Coyotes are very resilient animals,” Brown said. “They’re one of the few animals that are in relatively constant conflict with humans yet seem to be growing in numbers. The ones around here are habituated to humans and that means they’re becoming very bold. That is not a good thing.”
Llewanda Halldorsen of Southside knows just how bold they can be. Last February she was out in the barn where she keeps her pygmy goats when she turned around and spotted a coyote in the yard eyeing her tiny goats.
“I chased him off but he came back,” she said.
It took a bear banger to frighten the animal away, but she is not taking any chances now. She is very cautious about her goats and keeps a close eye on them, even though they are in a fenced enclosure.
Of course, it’s easier to keep watch over domestic animals like pygmy goats than it is a cat. But if you don’t want to discover that little Fluffy has been snatched and eaten you’ll need to keep your cats and small dogs indoors at night and not feed them outside.
“The precautions you can take to keep your pets safe are just common sense, really,” Brown said.
Municipal Animal Control Officers are aware of the problem. They have received more than 20 reports of missing animals and one report of a coyote brazenly stalking a small dog while it’s owner was present. However, they can’t do anything because their legal jurisdiction is only over problems with domestic animals — not wild things that howl at the moon and chase other creatures down for supper. Wild animals are under the jurisdiction of provincial Conservation Officers. However, they could not be reached for comment on the missing pets and the coyotes’ alleged role in their disappearance.
Cats may not be the only pets being devoured. Dog walkers have all heard stories about coyotes luring dogs away from their masters and there’s one tale being told about a coyote chasing a dog that was loping along behind its owner who was on a bicycle. True or not, those stories have people being extra-cautious when they’re walking their dogs near Downie Marsh.
“Be smart,” says Brown. “Be careful and you’ll be alright.”
And don’t go near them yourselves. Not only may coyotes carry rabies, they have been known to attack humans, especially children. Just last week a coyote was killed in Coquitlam after it attacked a toddler and in 2007 three children were attacked in separate incidents in Canmore, Alta. There have also been attacks on children near Jasper, Alta., and on the Lower Mainland. The animals in those instances were hunted down and shot.
Have you had a close encounter with a coyote or suspect you lost your pet to one? If you have please share your story by posting it on the comment form below. Thank you