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City meeting held over coyote attacks in Rye

July 2, 2010 3:49:39 AM PDT
There was a community meeting in Rye Thursday night to discuss concerns over two coyote attacks on young children. Residents who are angry and scared let town officials know their feelings, including the father of Emily Hodulik, who was one of the victims recently attacked.

"It looks like my daughter Emily going to be just fine," Steve Hodulik said. "She's had most of her rabies shots. She has one this Saturday another next Saturday. "

According to wildlife officials, Hodulik's family did everything right by keeping an adult near their 6-year-old.

Last Friday, two coyotes pounced on Emily while she was playing outside. Then Tuesday evening, a 3-year-old girl was also attacked.

Neither girl was seriously injured.

The Rye City Council held a meeting Thursday night to answer neighbors' questions.

Wildlife officials say there's something neighbors can do: don't back down.

"If you have to take a couple of steps towards them, scream at them, do what you have to do," official Kevin Clarke said. "But just don't stand there or just grab the kids and run in the house. Do what you have to do to make these coyotes have some sort of fear of humans."

When resident Tim Kirvi came across a coyote while walking his dog, he did exactly what Clarke is urging other residents to do.

"At the time, I didn't know what to do, which is pick up a rock or a stick and throw it and make noise," he said. "I just slowly started backing up and he followed me all the way up the sidewalk, and I'm sure he was looking for a meal."

The city is aggressively hunting for the coyotes and is working with professional trappers to find the animals. There are concerns the coyotes could be rabid, but officials say it's more likely the animals are too young to have developed a fear of people.

Coyotes usually do not attack humans. However, as residents make outdoor plans for this holiday weekend, the Westchester County Department of Health is offering the following simple safety tips to deter coyotes from attacking and to keep them away from homes.

To keep coyotes from your property:

  • Bring pet food and water dishes inside.
  • Do not put out food for birds.
  • Do not leave food outside unattended; scrape your grill and burn off food residue.
  • Cover garbage cans securely.
  • Consider keeping small children and pets inside if there have been coyote sightings near your house.
  • While outside, have handy pepper spray, loud horn, noisemakers, or pots or pans to bang on and also things you can throw at coyotes.
  • If possible, avoid being outdoors between the hours of 6:00pm to midnight.
    If a coyote approaches you:
  • Be aggressive: stand tall, shout in a loud voice, throw things at coyote, maintain eye contact and wave your arms as you try to scare it away and head indoors or to a more populated area.
  • Do not turn your back and run, as the coyote will then view you as prey and give chase.
  • Call 911. Do not try to catch the coyote unless you are a trained animal trapper.

    For more information about coyotes and rabies prevention, go to www.westchestergov.com/health.


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