A few weeks ago I rolled my eyes at the freaked Hancock Park-adjacent folks who got all up in arms over the nerve of some coyotes to ventured rather brazenly into that area. And today I’m back shaking my head only this time it’s after reading Jenny Burman’s excellent Echo Park blog Chicken Corner on L.A. Observed in which she relates the lucky tale sent to her by a reader of hers whose Jack Russell terrier narrowly avoided becoming an afternoon snack at the hands of a pair of Elysian Park coyotes:
“We rounded one of the curves of the path (near where the shortcut path comes down the hill), and the ball travels over the edge towards Stadium Way. Lois, my type A russell high-tails it down the hill to get it. My friend and I watch with a smile as she flies down the steep hill…until a coyote pounces on her about 150 feet down! I instantly race down the hill 10 feet to a stride, listening to my dog howl in fear!”
The guardian’s charge into the fray thankfully broke things up before anything injurious happened, and while of course I’m pleased to read that the terrier suffered no harm in what was a truly frightening encounter, I’m perturbed at how naive and negligent this guy is to walk his dogs off-leash in such a wild area — especially to send them charging after balls down hillsides. In the standoff that ensues he goes on to wonder if the coyotes might turn on him and I’m always particularly perplexed whenever I hear of people in proximity of coyotes wondering if they’re being sized up as potential prey. To regard the canines from a perspective of fear rather than cautious respect most always ends up bad for the coyote. The fact is coyotes go after far more manageable prey such as opossums, squirrels, skunks, rats, birds and snakes — and our garbage, don’t forget garbage. Given how man has systematically attempted to exterminate the creatures they’ve had it genetically hardwired over the centuries to avoid people, and attacks on adult humans by healthy coyotes are a very rare thing and more than likely defensive in nature.
While he and his dog got off easy, it seems he didn’t even take the lesson at heart, writing only that he’s going to “be more careful from now on when my dogs stray from the path.” When they stray from the path!? Dude, you were given a wonderful wake-up call… don’t just go back to sleep. if you’re not going to leash up your dogs (which above else is the law), then my recommendation is that you and Lois best just avoid that stretch of trail and find other hillsides to bound down — even moreso if there’s a den in that vicinity that might be home to pups in a month or two and the coyotes are far more likely to be protective.