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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Photo courtesy of Christina Smith

Police kill coyote intruder near city park

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

There’s been no sign so far of a relieved roadrunner or any unclaimed Acme products, but one less than wily coyote found out the hard way last Wednesday that his kind are unwelcome in town and that venturing there is likely to end with the proverbial anvil to the head.

Glendive resident Christina Smith and her mother were across from Whipkey Park the afternoon of last Wednesday, Oct. 11, when her mom first spotted the interloper “sitting around on a mound of grass clippings” in an empty lot next to the apartment complex.

“My mom and I were getting ready to leave my sister’s house, and my mom’s like, ‘That’s a big old dog over there,’” Smith said.

Smith said it only took one look for her to identify that it wasn’t a dog at all, but a wild coyote, and a good-sized one at that.

“He was a good 35 pounds, so he was pretty big,” she said.

Smith pulled out her smartphone and started taking video of the animal, and being familiar with coyotes and their habits, her other first instinct was to call the authorities, which she quickly did. She said she was concerned not only for people’s pets in the area, but for the local children too, noting that her nephew walks across that very field every weekday afternoon on his way home from school.

“When I saw one in town I was like, ‘He has to go. He’s going to hurt somebody,’” Smith said. “I grew up on a cattle ranch, so coyotes are a nuisance and can cause tons of damage, but not just to livestock and pets, but to people too, and particularly small children.”

Smith added that she could also only think of two reasons a coyote would be in town, and that from what she could tell, it wasn’t the more benign of the two.

“He was a full-grown male, and he was either sick or he was hunting. And he didn’t look sick, so he was hunting,” she said.

The Glendive Police Department ultimately cut the coyote’s Glendive shopping excursion abruptly short, as a bullet fired from the gun of Officer Jonathan Lopez put the beast down. Smith praised Lopez for making a “good, clean shot” to fell the animal and for the police department’s overall response to the incident.

“I think they did a great job and I think it’s just awesome they came out and took care of it because it potentially could have been a lot worse than it was,” she said.

Police Chief Brad Mitchell also said that Lopez “did a good job” in handling the situation. 

Mitchell added that the police department doesn’t have any official policy for dealing with wild animals in town, with such incidents handled on a “case by case” basis depending on the animal, the situation and the potential threat posed.

Mitchell noted that he can’t recall the last time the GPD responded to a report of a coyote in town, positing that perhaps the regional drought conditions may have played some role in driving the critter into the city.

“It’s a pretty unusual thing,” Mitchell said of finding a coyote within the city limits. “We’ve killed lots of snakes and skunks and things like that, but as far as I know this is the first coyote in a long time that came into town.”

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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