Farm Point woman chased by aggressive coyotes
Rebecca D’Amour Bilodeau is afraid to go outside in the evening after a pack of aggressive coyotes chased her and her dog into her Farm Point house on June 1.
“It was really scary, to be honest with you,” Bilodeau told the Low Down after the harrowing experience.
Bilodeau had just taken her dog outside around 9 p.m. on June 1 and was scrolling videos on her phone when she noticed a motion-detecting light flashing on and off near her garage. She initially figured it was probably a neighbourhood cat, but within seconds it became clear that there was a pack of coyotes heading right for her and her dog.
“Maybe two seconds later, they started screaming and screaming, and you could hear them running towards us,” said Bilodeau about the pack of coyotes. “My dog jumped and nearly went to attack them to protect me, and I just grabbed my dog from the stairs, and I literally threw him in the door. He didn’t have a choice. When I grabbed him, that’s when I saw them. They were big ones.”
The aggressive coyotes – at least six of them – continued toward the door and were all howling on the front porch as Bilodeau closed the door and barely escaped, she recalled, adding that the coyotes were just six feet from her and her dog when she spotted them.
The wild pack of animals then began running around her backyard, howling. She said they eventually retreated towards the garage, waiting for another chance to attack.
“I closed all the doors and went to look outside, and that’s when I looked at the garage, and the light was on, and I saw all of them. They were watching us.”
While Bilodeau and Captain, her four-year-old German Shepherd mix, managed to escape the ordeal unscathed, it has rattled everyone in her house, including her dog, who now “stays right next to us.”
“I can’t go out at night now,” said Bilodeau. “I cannot step a foot outside; I’m not putting my dog outside. No one in my family can go outside. I know they hang out in the backyard — not even in the woods; they are in my backyard.”
Senior Conservation officer with the NCC, Jason Pink, told the Low Down that coyote behaviours have changed in recent years, adding that residents may start seeing more and more coyotes during the day — especially in residential areas that border Gatineau Park. Pink said that coyotes have figured out that where there are humans, there must be food.
“It’s all about food for them; they want to eat. They are looking for food all day, all night,” explained Pink. “They’re attracted to bird feeders; they’re attracted to fruit trees; compost bins; garbage; all that kind of stuff.”
Pink urged hikers and homeowners to always be on the lookout for wild animals, and for those hiking in natural areas, never bring food with a strong scent and make sure whatever snacks you have are wrapped up. He said to make sure you are “not carrying a chicken in your back pocket.” He added that keeping domesticated animals on leashes is “an absolute must.”
If you encounter a coyote, Pink said, it’s a similar protocol when dealing with a bear sighting: you should never turn and run, as both coyotes and bears can give chase. He said the most important thing to remember is that humans need to display dominance immediately.
“Make a lot of noise. You can throw rocks at them, grab a stick and whip it around in the air; if they get too close, you can whack them over the head if you have to, but you have to be the dominant one,” said Pink. “Screaming, yelling; people that bring whistles with them — that’s awesome. Air horns. Some hikers carry bear spray with them — that’s also effective.”
In Bilodeau’s case, she said she didn’t have the time to grab a stick or wave her arms in the air and said that the coyotes were determined to attack had she not reacted in time.
“At that moment, I couldn’t just stay there and wave my arms and shout,” she said. “They were really screaming and coming for me on my porch. For them to go on my steps, it means that they wanted the dog or me.”
The NCC confirms that packs of eastern coyotes are roaming around the Hills. Eastern coyotes are a hybrid of a wolf and a coyote, sometimes referred to as a “coywolf,” and this could explain the aggressive behaviour that Bilodeau witnessed.
If push comes to shove, Pink said you’ll have to put your dukes up.
“Worst case, if you do get into it, then you’ve got to fight,” said Pink. “Whatever means it takes — kicking, punching, screaming, all that. Generally speaking, that’s enough to scare them away.”