Coyotes kill woman’s pet pup on Aspen hike
Colorado Division of Wildlife officials are hoping the killing of a woman’s Labradoodle by coyotes during a hike in Aspen might serve as a reminder of the steps people should take to help safeguard their pets and themselves from predators.
Agency spokesman Mike Porras said wildlife officials feel badly for the woman, but hope some good can come from it if people can learn of the importance of keeping their pets on leashes and taking other precautions where coyotes may exist.
“We just always strive to remind people what they need to do to reduce conflicts with any wildlife,” Porras said.
The woman, whose name wasn’t released, was on the Smuggler Mountain trail Friday when the incident occurred. Her 6-month-old pet was off-leash, which is legal in that area, when the dog approached one or more coyotes in a playful manner and they attacked.
Ross Ettlin, owner of Rocky Mountain Pet Shop in Aspen, said such an attack in the Aspen area on a larger dog on a popular and well-traveled trail is “just very unusual.”
However, he’s heard of smaller pets being targeted by predators around Aspen.
“If you live by the edge of the woods, if you’re out in the boonies and you have small dogs, yeah, you’ve got to watch them because they are fair game, they are bait,” he said.
In one case in Aspen years ago, an eagle swooped down and flew off with a small dog as its owner watched, Ettlin said.
Porras said it’s prudent for people to be aware of the potential dangers posed by bear, mountain lions, foxes, coyotes and other predators, and take precautions such as keeping their distance.
In the case of coyotes, “it may sound a little harsh to some people, but in an area where there are coyote and pets are running loose there is a very good chance that something could happen,” he said.
If a coyote appears playful toward a pet, that may just be in order to lure it into an attack. If a coyote approaches, people should use a loud voice to frighten it off, and throw rocks and sticks if necessary, the DOW recommends.
Porras said wildlife officers have some discretion regarding whether to try to track down coyotes or other wildlife that are aggressive and dangerous, but they generally consider the danger to humans, not pets. In this case, the dog was loose and the person was not threatened, he said.