Two more coyote attacks in Westchester

September 7, 2010 3:25:46 AM PDT
An aggressive coyote was shot and killed after apparently being involved in two attacks in Westchester.

"I hit it a third time before it had a chance to lunge at me again, and scared it away with loud noises," said 14-year-old Eric Mandel, who came face to face with a snarling coyote.

Mandel says he relied on his instincts, which he says kicked in when the coyote charged out of a wooded area.

"I realized it was a coyote," he said. "I stepped back, thinking it would just walk on by, and it started to come after me. It lunged at me. I guess it was instinct. I hit the mouth away almost as it was about to bite me."

He and a group of friends were playing hide and seek at a neighbor's house, where their parents were in the backyard.

"Eric was so brave because he wasn't afraid of him, he pushed him away," neighbor Sabrina Otero said.

About an hour after the first attack, a 2-year-old and her father came face to face with the coyote in a driveway.

"The coyote apparently lunged at my granddaughter, and bit her on the arm," said Greg Zuckerman, the victim's grandfather.

By first light, there was an all out effort to track the coyote.

Police and wildlife trappers quickly cornered it back in a wooded area in Rye Brook. Then suddenly, there was the sound of gunfire.

Moments later, the dead coyote was brought out.

Police and trappers believe it was the animal that lunged at Eric and the young girl.

"He did, he lunged toward me," wildlife trapper Ray Hatley said. "I swung. He backed up. Then, he lunged at me again, and then backed up and hid underneath the trees. That's not normal behavior with these coyotes over here."

Wildlife experts took a video of a coyote trapped earlier this summer at a golf club in Rye and have been setting traps in the woods as the number of attacks increased.

At town meetings in Rye this July, residents were warned not to back down.

"If you have to, take a couple of steps towards them, scream at them, do what you have to do," wildlife official Kevin Clarke said. "But just don't stand there. Don't just grab the kids and run in the house."

The village's three-week trapping program was set to expire this week, but town officials will likely renew it. Rye Brook police are using reverse 911 to alert residents. Wildlife officials also suggest carrying pepper spray and air horns, and to stop feeding cats and dogs outdoors.