Coyote attack has Austin neighborhood on alert

A West Austin neighborhood is on alert after a coyote killed a family pet.

It happened at a home on Winstead Lane just south of the intersection of Enfield Rd and MoPac.

A lot of people were out Thursday morning in a West Austin neighborhood walking with their dogs. Ryan Hess was with his new pup, Franklin. He didn't know about the recent coyote attack that happened nearby, but now that he does know, he’ll keep a closer watch on his dog.

“Yeah, I definitely think we'll make sure we don’t leave him unattended,” said Hess.

Henry, a three-year-old miniature poodle was killed Wednesday. "It’s so crazy to be petting the dog, that’s all just being loving and licking in the morning, and then at noon the dog is dead, just shocking really,” said Mike London.

A coyote jumped over his backyard fence, according to London.

It snatched his dog and killed it in the Johnson Creek Greenbelt.

London is worried more attacks are possible. "That coyote is still hungry and will be coming for your dog, so the thing to do is keep the coyote scared away or keep the dog from being a meal,” said London.

A block away from the incident,  Carl Ehlert said he also had a recent encounter with a coyote.

"I saw, maybe a month ago, one sort of escape around the back of my garage- I don’t know where he went from there, I ran over to see, but it was gone, very fast,” said Ehlert.

Tips on keeping coyotes away are posted on this website by the Austin Animal Center.

Some of the ideas include:

  • Not leaving pet food dishes outside overnight.
  • Securing barbecue grills
  • Installing motion activated sprinklers and lights.

A few years ago the Austin City Council passed a coyote policy. It’s similar to the way the city handles the deer population. It’s a 'No Kill' policy except as a last resort.

“April and summer time is when they have pups on the ground, it is a more active time, yes,” said Richard Heilbrun, an expert in urban wildlife with the state parks department.

Heilbrun spoke to FOX 7 by phone while returning to Texas Thursday from a national conference.

"We're not seeing any increased rates of coyote calls; it’s a pretty typical year." Heilbrun says his agency and the City of Austin are working together and promoting coyote education programs.

"One of the most important things to remember is that coyotes have been in Austin and Central Texas forever, they're part of the landscape, part of what makes Austin, Austin, and Texas, Texas,” said Heilbrun.

The challenge, according to Heilbrun, is learning how to co-exist by adjusting behavior.

But even doing that is no guarantee that encounters and losses, like what the London family experience Wednesday, can ever be eliminated.