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Coyotes acting strange in Bonner County

January 27, 2023

By T.J. Ross
IDFG Regional Communications Manager

Idaho Fish and Game has received multiple reports of highly unusual coyote behavior in and around the city of Sandpoint. In early January, reports were received of coyotes on Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort that were chasing skiers as they navigated down the slopes. Fish and Game staff worked closely with resort staff to develop a plan to dispatch the coyotes in the interest of public safety.

Before the coyotes could be located and dispatched, one bit a female skier. Although her injuries were minor, Fish and Game and Schweitzer Mountain Resort took the matter very seriously. Collaborative efforts are still underway to trap and dispatch the offending coyotes.

During the week of January 22, Fish and Game received reports of two coyotes roaming a business district near downtown Sandpoint. The animals were reported to appear comfortable in the presence of human activity during daylight hours, which is highly unusual.

Fish and Game Conservation Officers consulted with local law enforcement to capture and dispatch the animals, again in the interest of public safety. One coyote was captured and dispatched, and efforts are still underway to capture the remaining animal.

The body of the dispatched coyote has been retained for further testing, if needed.

It is unknown what is causing these coyotes to behave so abnormally. Reports of coyotes being comfortable near and even attacking humans are extremely rare, as they are often secretive and largely nocturnal animals.

There are very few documented cases of rabies in land mammals in Idaho, so it is unlikely these coyotes are rabid. Although coyotes are known to defend dens with pups, pup season occurs in April and May.

The most probable explanation for their behavior is habituation to humans, which most often occurs when wild animals are fed by humans. When wild animals become habituated to human presence or food sources, they can behave uncharacteristically and become dangerous to people. It is suspected this was the case with the coyotes involved in these incidents.

If you or someone you know sees a coyote on Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort or in and around Sandpoint, please contact the Panhandle Regional office immediately at (208) 769-1414 to report the incident. Please do not approach the animal or attempt to feed, touch or harass it.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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