JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – A 15-year-old girl jogging in her Sugar Mill neighborhood barely escaped injury when a coyote chased her and her black Labrador-mix. The dog and the coyote fought, and Sarah Demartino hit the animal with her cellphone.
The attack came last week after Sarah had decided to go for a run around 10 p.m.
“I told Sarah to take the dog with her,” said her father Bill Demartino.
She started out walking and soon sensed someone or something was following her.
“I could hear leaves rustling behind me, so I speeded up. Then I heard it speed up too,” Sarah said.
“Then I looked around and saw what looked like a German shepherd following us.”
She began to run, which unfortunately is exactly the wrong thing to do when confronted by a coyote. That triggers its attack instinct. (See below.)
“I was running into the yard of a neighbor’s house, and my dog and the coyote were fighting. I hit it with my phone and got blood on it. I think it was the coyote’s, because our dog didn’t have any injuries,” Sarah said.
She ran and knocked on the neighbor’s door and once inside called her dad.
“I got in the car and picked Sarah up. We then drove down the street looking for the animal and saw it,” Demartino said.
“We hadn’t gone very far when we saw it in a yard. It looked a little like a shepherd, but its ears point straight up, and I knew it was a coyote,” he said.
Demartino said he was frustrated when he contacted authorities about the coyote sighting.
“I called the Johns Creek Police Department, but they told me to call 911. The 911 dispatcher said to call Animal Control. I called Animal Control and they said to call the Department of Natural Resources. The DNR told me to call Animal Control,” he said.
Now Demartino wants to warn people that while seldom seen, coyotes are in our midst. They have been increasing their range out of the Southwest as other predators such as wolves and cougars have been evicted from suburban environments.
Meanwhile, coyotes have been reported recently in such urbanized areas as Buckhead.
There have been coyotes in North Fulton for at least 20 years. They have become a problem in many states, and while normally skittish of humans, they can become “habituated” (losing their fear of humans) and should always be confronted and “hazed.” (See below.)
Hazing coyotes successful in discouraging presence
Coyotes are usually reclusive animals and are shy of people. However coyotes that have adapted to urban and suburban environments may come to realize there are few real threats and will approach humans and even feel safe visiting their yards even when people are present.
Hazing coyotes is the method recommended by the Denver, Colo., Hazing Guidelines for handling the coyote migration problem.
Hazing uses a variety of deterrents to discourage undesirable behavior and encourage coyotes to be less brazen or even leave the area. These methods begin with being “loud” and “large.”
People should shout, stand and face the animal, waving their hands and acting aggressive. Above all, DO NOT RUN from a coyote. If a coyote is confronted by something that is not afraid of it, the animal will retire.
Here are the Denver coyote guidelines:
• Never leave food outdoors where coyotes can find it, especially on a regular basis.
• Keep pets on a leash and indoors.
• Do not approach an injured or sick coyote. Their behavior may be unpredictable. Call Animal Control.
• If coyotes are in your area, wear a whistle or small bullhorn to make loud noises if one approaches.
• Coyotes habituated to an area where people live need to be discouraged by hazing: making loud noises, approaching waving one’s arms and shouting at it. It may take several hazings to convince the coyote to leave an area permanently.