Gordon Pearse says he was just walking his daughter’s small dog Friday morning along a popular northwest path in Panorama Hills when a coyote started rushing down the hill toward him.
He pulled the leash of the young puppy, sending it into the air and yelled at the incoming wild animal, but that’s when a second one appeared.
“As I wheeled to face that coyote and yell at it, the other one was within range of us,” he said. “I’m holding the dog up in the air, but the leash let loose from around the neck of the dog and as the dog dropped, the one coming down the hill ran and very quickly grabbed it and ran up the hill and killed it.”
The incident happened as Pearse was walking up the pathway toward the top nine holes of the Country Hills golf course near its clubhouse.
“As far as I’m concerned, this was an attack, this wasn’t a defensive position from these coyotes, we weren’t near a den and we weren’t doing anything to disturb them.”
The City announced late Friday morning it was closing part of the path down from Panorama Hills Landing all the way down to the golf course, because of a den with pups in the area.
“Our pathway closure on this one is quite large because we wanted to give people the opportunity to turn around, we didn’t want them halfway down the pathway and then not have an exit point,” City Parks Ecologist Tanya Hope said.
Coyotes can have multiple dens to move their pups around and with breeding season underway, it’s difficult to determine how many there may be in the area and how young the pups might be at this point.
“When we notice that they’ve moved on, then we’ll open the pathway,” she said. “We are here to coexist with them, we want to give them their space and we want to keep folk and wildlife a little bit separate.”
“They can get very protective and they want to push you out of their territory. They may try to aggressively make you move.”
But Pearse – who notified 660 NEWS several hours after the news conference – said what’s most alarming is that he did nothing to approach any wild animals, pointing out there’s plenty of homes, playground areas and the golf course itself in the area.
“They had zero fear of myself, I’m 6’1″ and 215 pounds and these coyotes didn’t care that I was yelling and screaming at them,” he said. “I didn’t think these coyotes would ever attack a person. I thought they would shy away, but clearly, they didn’t just attack, they were hunting.”
Tarv Bajwa has been living in Panorama Hills for almost a decade and has seen coyotes before, but has never seen part of a popular path closed down.
“That’s why it’s a little bit surprising for me,” he said. “Last weekend, I took pictures on my phone and the coyote was down there.”
“But I was talking to someone and they did tell me that they were charged last year.”
Bajwa took pictures of a coyote just last week and said he was sure to keep his distance.
(Image via Tarv Bajwa)
He said usually during the day, they keep to themselves in the large fields, coming out more in the early morning or evening in the residential areas.
“I have seen the coyote pass behind my backyard,” he said. “I think they’re becoming more habituated to human beings.”
One woman said it’s possible some of the residents could be upset about the closure, like those who bike down the path for work.
But for Bajwa, being proactive is a good idea, especially since he’s seen some pet owners leave their dogs off leash.
“We have other biking paths down here and we respect the decision because it’s in our interest,” he said.
Hope reminds residents to keep their yards clean of garbage, pick up their pets’ waste and never feed wildlife.
But Pearse said he’s not sure what more can be done if wild animals are going to be this aggressive again.
“If they know where the dens are, maybe they should be relocating these things,” he said. “It would be awful scary if it was a parent out there with young children.”
Pearse said he has no doubt that had he hadn’t tried to save the puppy, he would’ve been attacked himself.