It sounds like the start of a horror film — a man walks to work in the darkness of the early morning. As he strolls along, he hears a twig snap and turns toward the sound. That’s when he is viciously attacked by a large animal. A total of three coyotes continue to lunge at the man, over and over, until he is able to crush the skull of the largest animal with his flashlight and scare off the others. (If video doesn’t load, please hit refresh.)

Video courtesy of Daily Camera
But this isn’t the intro to the latest Halloween date flick — it’s a true story out of Boulder County, Colo., where local newspaper, the Daily Camera, reports that Andrew Dickehage was attacked by three coyotes on his way to work. Two of the attacking coyotes have already been tracked and eliminated by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers, and the third is still being sought. The victim was treated for his wounds at a nearby hospital and released this week.

This kind of story begs the question — can coyote attacks happen here and what can be done to prevent them?

Coyotes are one of the most common wide-range pack mammals in the United States, thanks to their adaptability and the fact that humans have eliminated a large population of their competition — the wolf. There are at least 50,000 coyotes currently living in the state of Washington.

According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the first recorded coyote attack on humans occurred here in Bellevue in 2006. Earlier this year, a Kent man was attacked by three coyotes in his own backyard. According to Q13 Fox News, the man had been outside with his dog when the coyotes emerged from the bushes. They jumped toward him and though he pushed the coyotes away, they continued to bite and scratch him.

These stories are similar in that both attacks were unprovoked — the animals were not defending their young — and took place in a residential area. Coyotes are generally timid animals — opportunists that feed on plants, small animals, carrion and garbage. They rarely attack unless protecting their young. But there has been an increase in coyote sightings in urban areas, a trend that could lead to more attacks, since they begin to lose fear of humans through close contact.

The recent attack in Colorado prompted the state’s Parks and Wildlife officials to release the following tips on coyote attacks:


If a coyote attacks:

— Do not run or turn your back

— Be as big and loud as possible

— Wave your arms and throw objects

— Face the coyote and back away slowly

— If attacked, fight back


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