Coyote attack in public park

The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting that Cleveland Metroparks officials have closed part of the North Chagrin Reservation after a pair of aggressive female coyotes bit a bicyclist and a pet dog over the weekend.

From the story:

    Park officials said the wild animals are believed to be protecting their den -- and possibly a litter of coyote pups -- but park rangers shot and killed the older female Sunday and have taken the head to the Ohio Department of Health to be tested for rabies.

    "It's just a precaution because we don't believe she was rabid, just that she was territorial," Cleveland Metroparks spokeswoman Jane Christyson said Tuesday. "But if it is rabies, we would be in a whole new situation."

According to the newspaper, the coyote attacks occurred in the A.B. Williams Memorial Woods area of the Chagrin Reservation, a 50-acre wedge off Ohio 91 in the southwest corner of the park known as the "Upper 40". Park officials told the newspaper the area will remain closed for several weeks until the cubs are able to leave the den and the remaining younger female becomes less protective.

Again, from the story:

    Wildlife experts report on the Metroparks Web site, www.clemetparks.com/updates/notices/, that coyotes are generally afraid of people, but "there have been occasional reports of females showing less fear of people while protecting a den or pups," especially in April.

    Christyson said park officials didn't know whether the female was still pregnant or whether other coyotes were in the area.

    "We've known about the increasing coyote population in Ohio and the parks for years, but we've never had a report of one biting someone," she said.

    "It's of special concern now, of course, because of the rabies scare."

    Northeast Ohio has been under an increasingly tense rabies watch for several years, after years of relative quiet. Health officials using vaccine-filled bait had been able to stop the disease at the Ashtabula County border. Since summer 2004, however, 45 rabid raccoons and one rabid skunk have been confirmed in Lake, Geauga and eastern Cuyahoga counties.

    Neither local nor state health officials have reported any rabid coyotes. Test results on the coyote killed at North Chagrin aren't expected for several weeks, officials said.

The Plain Dealer quotes a park police report as saying that the 61-year-old man bitten Saturday had "several distinct puncture wounds in a wide 'V' shape." Another hiker's dog was "nipped at" Sunday, and police reported that another hiker had to club a coyote on the head with a stick to drive it away.

Officials say about 50 coyotes are believed to live in the Cleveland Metroparks' 21,000-acre holdings, a handful in the 2,000-acre North Chagrin Reservation, a park that straddles Lake and Cuyahoga counties and includes the Squires Castle site.

Commentary by Dan White, OFCC Membership Coordinator:
Well, it looks like my concerns were justified. I have been pushing the “no-guns” Lorain Metroparks issue pretty hard over the last year because I don't like hiking the trails unarmed. My main concern has always been more for the 4 legged predators than the 2 legged variety.

Here we have a story of two people who were attacked, and even bitten, by a coyote in the Cleveland Metroparks. A dog was also attacked. When park rangers investigated, a coyote came out of the woods at them as well. They shot and killed it.

Unarmed human - attacked and bitten
Armed human - attacked and coyote dead

The next time they do a story on why people want to carry firearms in public parks, they should set cameras up next to the coyote dens instead of the jungle gym.

Related Story:
Parma man, 82, paralyzed after last week's dog attack

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