Bellevue residents believe coyotes are killing their pets

Residents of several Bellevue neighborhoods say their pets and other animals are disappearing and they believe coyotes are to blame.  Now they want state wildlife officials to help get rid of them.

They say they started seeing coyotes about three weeks ago. Now they're afraid for their pets and even the kids.

A state wildlife official says coyote sightings are normal.  Coyotes, he says, are in every corner of this state even in downtown Seattle.

So getting rid of them is next to impossible.

The signs are all there coyotes are afoot in several Bellevue neighborhoods. And they are leaving behind the paw prints to prove it.

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"My husband saw three about two weeks ago," said Danielle Loesch, "the same morning that you saw three."

For Loesch and her neighbor Patti Lynch, just walking a dog now seems like a risky act.  And they have heard the stories of neighbors' pets attacked and in some cases killed.

They insist they are used to seeing wildlife in their neighborhood but nothing like this.

"It seems like there's been a sudden uptick in these predators roaming our neighborhoods in broad daylight," said Loesch. "And something needs to be done about it."

And they worry what will happen if nothing is done.

"Our fear is the children," says Lynch. "Well, the animals, too. But we have a lot of small children. And many people in this neighborhood aren't aware of the problem."

But Sgt. Kim Chandler, a career fish and wildlife game warden, says coyotes rarely attack humans.

"When was the last time you turned on the news of someone being attacked by a coyote?" he asked.

He says pets are a different story. Pet owners, he says, should keep them on a leash or inside.  Don't leave pet food or garbage lying around.  Now he says the feds will rid a neighborhood of problem coyotes, for a fee.

"That's a possibility," he said.  "But again, it's a lethal removal."

Because, he says, the "wily coyote" is not just a cartoon character.  He's real.

"Trapping and relocating a coyote is not an option," he says, adding, "period."

Besides, says Chandler, when one coyote is removed, another takes its place.

He says he does take the residents' concerns seriously. But he also wants them to know coyotes do a lot of good, too. They kill rodents and other small animals we consider a nuisance.

But in general, coyotes do not want to have contact with humans.