Bountiful woman encounters pack of coyotes while hiking along Bonneville Shoreline Trail

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 8 2013 6:39 p.m. MST

NORTH SALT LAKE — A Bountiful woman got quite a scare during a recent hike along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

It was about 5 p.m. Dec. 19 when Sheryl Allred took her two dogs on a hike in North Salt Lake and encountered a pack of six or eight coyotes. The animals were as big, if not bigger, than her dogs — a blue heeler that weighs 40-45 pounds and a German pinscher that weighs around 30 pounds.

One of the coyotes spotted the German pinscher, which was about 50 yards ahead of Allred. The coyote was a little too close for comfort, she said, so she called to the blue heeler.

“(The blue heeler) turned around and started running toward me, and that coyote just took after her,” Allred said.

Another six or seven coyotes came "out of the woodwork" to join in the pursuit — all of them heading toward Allred, she said.

The coyotes were between 15 feet and 20 feet away from Allred when the heeler arrived at her side. Her German pinscher then headed straight for the pack, she said.

"I was calling him, and I thought he was dead," Allred said.

Eventually, the dog came galloping back, being chased by two coyotes, she said. At one point, one of the coyotes nipped the dog. It yelped and turned around, and that's when the coyotes just stopped.

Allred had been walking backward, away from the pack, while calling to her dogs, but “they were around. They were following us, kind of surrounding me.”

She finally got her dogs under control and tried to get out of the dangerous situation. Yelling at the coyotes didn't work, Allred said. 

"They weren't scared of me,” she said. “That was the scary thing.”

Allred then faced the coyotes and tried to look as big and mean as she could. That's when the coyotes started to retreat, one by one.

Allred said she had come across coyotes on a previous hike, but they ran away when they saw her. This time, Allred said she believes the coyotes were so focused on her dogs that they just ignored her.

Encountering a pack of coyotes may sound unusual for an area frequented by people, but coyote expert Kerry Carver said that's not always true.

"They're looking for food," Carver said. "They're strictly trying to pack some calories on them."

In winter, he said, they want an easy target.

"They will go after the small pets for certain," Carver said.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

* * *

If you encounter a coyote ...

• Make noise while hiking to alert wildlife of your presence.

• Do not approach the coyote.

• Pick up small pets, make loud noises, stomp your feet, throw rocks or sticks, if necessary, to frighten the coyote away.

• Do not run or turn your back on a coyote that has approached you. Face the coyote, shout at it, wave your arms and back away slowly.

Source: Wild Aware Utah

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