Coyote attacks on humans are rare, expert says

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - She was known as 'Mean Kitty,' but the attitude of a cat living in Central Gardens didn't save her recently from a brutal attack.  Mean Kitty's owner, Suzette Bond, says she was killed on her front porch by what appeared to be coyote.

Attacks on pets have neighbors worried that people are next.

"Because if a person gets attacked, most of them I think they carry rabies. That could be really dreadful for an individual," Bond said.

Wildlife Control Expert Carl Hirsheider says coyotes are typically on the prowl at dawn and dusk.

"Coyotes are one of the most difficult wildlife to deal with on the planet," Hirsheider said. "They are very smart, acclimate to us very well, and are very difficult to control."

Hirsheider says attacks on humans, particularly children, are rare.

"Very few times out the year do coyotes actually encounter children or attempt to mess with them," he said. "I really wouldn't be that concerned about it, but there is some concern for parents to be aware."

Just last month in suburban New York, a 3-year-old girl was attacked while playing in her backyard.  In the same week, another child was attacked in the same suburb.

"Most of the time, all the coyote wants to do is get away from us," Hirsheider said. "I mean, he's more afraid of us than generally we are of him."

But a lack of habitat in big city environments is pushing coyotes into more populated places, and they are adapting.

"They're around traffic all the time...very much does not bother them," Hirsheider said.

Coyote sightings are not rare in Midtown.  In fact, in the nineties, the Midtown Schnucks, then known as Seessels, sold T-shirts that said, "I saw the Midtown coyote."

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