Coyotes Attack Denver Woman, Her Dog

State wildlife officials said coyotes attacked a 51-year-old Denver woman walking her dog on Saturday evening.

Jacque Levitch was walking her Labrador retriever Taz when she was surrounded by three coyotes near her home on the 3900 block of South Oneida Street.

"I almost felt like they wanted to dismember me or something," she said.

Levitch said two of the animals attacked Taz. When she tried to protect her pet, one of the coyotes scratched and bit her.

"They bit my leg and they bit his arm and his leg and then one of them sort of got me on the hip," Levitch said. "I was yelling and flailing and I was elbowing and fisting and just beating on them."

The coyotes scattered. Levitch was left with bite marks and puncture wounds on her neck, leg, hip and hands. Taz was bitten on his legs.

Levitch was treated at Swedish Medical Center and released the same evening after getting a rabies shot. She took Taz to a veterinary hospital.

Colorado Division of Wildlife officers were unable to track down the coyotes. But the agency said it will keep looking for the animals and will kill them if they're found.

Saturday's attack marks the third time since December a coyote has bitten a person in the Denver area.

"The DOW takes injuries to humans very seriously," said Liza Hunholz, Area Wildlife Manager for Denver. "We will continue to work with Denver and all other Front Range communities to ensure that all citizens are aware of the presence of coyotes and know how to protect themselves and their pets. Likewise, we will continue to support cities and towns in developing a management plan that meets the needs of their constituents, such as Greenwood Village and Lakewood have done."

Division of Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said increasingly, urban coyotes are getting too comfortable with humans and targeting people and their pets.

"Coyotes can see their pets as prey, something to eat, a possible mate for themselves, or they can see them as a threat to their young," Churchill said.

Churchill said between February and March, which is mating season for coyotes, attacks can sometimes increase.

"We need these coyotes to be fearful of people again," said Churchill.

Churchill said when humans feed coyotes, it gives them a positive association with humans and a reason to come closer to them.

“Don’t feed them,” Churchill said.

She also urged dog owners to keep an eye on their dogs and keep them leashed and under control.

Churchill advised who people come into contact with coyotes to scare them off, by clapping, yelling or throwing things at them, even if the animals are not bothering them.

Last week the DOW hosted city leaders and decision makers at a coyote symposium in Jefferson County to discuss the coyote issue and train representatives on biology, outreach methods, and laws and regulations pertaining to coyotes. Cities and towns across the Front Range were encouraged to work with the DOW to create coyote management plans that meet the needs of their constituents.

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