By KIM ESTES, Four Points News
A second animal attack has been blamed for the death of yet another family pet in Steiner Ranch. It is believed coyotes are responsible.
The two family pet attacks happened a few days apart a few weeks ago.
Lori McCollum, owner of the second slain pet, said, “We let our guard down one time.”
The McCollum’s family dog was a 7-year-old Boston terrier named Laila. She disappeared from the backyard of their Valley of East Ridge home.
“In this neighborhood,” McCollum said, “we all let our dogs out and they run between the houses or play in the yards.”
Laila had been out and when the family looked for her, she was just gone. “We thought someone picked her up,” McCollum said.
A couple days later, however, they found Laila’s remains.
Although the family did not have the cause of death officially confirmed, two coyotes showed-up in the backyard. “I think they were coming back for more,” McCollum said.
Beba Calderoni — who lives in the Hills of West Ridge near the home where the first family pet was attacked and killed on Nov. 13 by what is assumed a wild animal — said, “It has been such a reality check.”
Calderoni has two dogs, but she’s also concerned about her husband and three daughters. “My husband runs early in the morning when it is dark and my daughters (all under 13-years-old) are petite. They could be in danger.”
Coyotes are common in Steiner Ranch.
Blake Hendon, a wildlife biologist with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, said if residents witness a violent attack they should call 911. “If it’s just a sitting, there’s no reason call. This is the native habitat of coyotes and it’s natural to see them.”
In cases of encroachment, as opposed to an attack or distant sitting, Hendon encourages residents to be proactive. “People need to learn to harass coyotes,” he said. “Coyotes don’t fear us when we don’t try to scare them away.”
Suggested repellents are portable air horns, motor vehicle horns, starter pistols, low-powered pellet guns, slingshots and thrown rocks. TPWD advises that residents first check with local authorities regarding noise and firearm ordinances before implementing use.
Coyotes weigh an average of 25 to 45 pounds, according to information on the Texas Wildlife Services website.
They are described as “opportunistic” feeders that eat almost anything. In suburban areas, coyotes may associate people and their pets with an easy and dependable source of food. Those that have lost their natural fear of people are more likely to approach and may threaten human health and safety.
In addition to harassment techniques, TPWD suggestions to discourage coyote infringement in urban/suburban areas include:
- Keep pet food and water inside to avoid scavenging by coyotes. Also, keep garbage securely stored, especially if it has to be put on the curb for collection; use tight-locking or bungee-cord-wrapped trash cans that are not easily opened.
- Keep compost piles securely covered. Correct composting never includes animal matter like bones or fat, which can draw coyotes even more quickly than decomposing vegetable matter.
- Keep pets inside, confined securely in a kennel or a covered exercise yard, or within the close presence of an adult.
- Walk pets on a leash and accompany them outside, especially at night.
- Do not feed wildlife on the ground. Keep wild bird seed in feeders elevated or hanging above ground and clean up spilled seed from the ground. Coyotes can either be drawn directly to the seed or to the rodents drawn to the seed.
- Keep fruit trees fenced or pick up fruit that falls to the ground.
- Do not feed feral cats (domestics gone wild). This can encourage coyotes to prey on cats, as well as feed on cat food left out for them.
- Minimize clusters of shrubs, trees, and other cover and food plants near buildings and children’s play areas to avoid attracting rodents and small mammals that will in turn attract coyotes.