Friday, June 12, 2009

Wild Animals are Called "Wild" for a Reason.

Haverhill woman says she was surrounded by coyotes

June 11, 2009 05:03 PM

By Stewart Bishop, Globe Correspondent

A Haverhill woman says she had a harrowing brush with the wild, when she was surrounded by coyotes while walking her dogs in a wooded area.

Mary Burke, 47, was out walking her four Labrador retrievers at around 7 a.m. Monday in an area off Groveland Road in the town of Groveland, which is adjacent to Haverhill, when she looked up and saw a coyote staring her down.

"I was talking on the phone to a friend when all of a sudden there was one, then there was four, and they surrounded me," Burke said today. As I turned around, I started crying, I said to my friend, 'Oh my God, I'm not going to make it out of here.' "

Burke called 911.

"We got a call that a woman was being aggressively followed by coyotes," said Groveland Police Chief Robert Kirmelewicz. "She had four good-sized dogs with her, but [the coyotes] weren't backing down."

The police were able to locate Burke's exact position using their enhanced 911 system, which pinpointed Burke's cellphone, said Kirmelewicz.

"The GPS feature proved to be a great tool in this instance," Kirmelewicz said. "If we hadn't been able to locate her, who knows what could have happened?"

The dispatcher was able to guide Burke out of the woods as officers rushed to help, but the coyotes kept pursuing.

"They followed me all the way out of the woods," Burke said. "All the while I was talking to my dogs, telling them to stay with me."

As Burke reached the edge of the wooded area, Groveland police cruisers arrived on scene, sirens blaring, and the coyotes fled.

"It was the most scary experience of my life, and I'm a cancer survivor twice over," Burke said.

"They were so close, I could've touched them with a pool cue."

Chief Kirmelewicz said the officers didn't see the coyotes when they arrived.

Burke said this experience has made her think that more should be done to control the coyote population.

"We used to do controlled hunts for coyotes," she said. "But that's not the case anymore, and the population is out of control."

Kirmelewicz said that while coyote sightings are not uncommon, it's unusual for them to act this way, and he urged people to take certain precautions when out in rural, wooded areas.

"I would suggest the best thing to do, if you're approached by coyotes, is to make a lot of noise to try and scare them off," he said. "And always carry a cellphone."

Reading the comments I have to wonder at the ignorance of some people. Real life is not a Disney movie. Wild animal are opportunists and will eat when and what they can.

About 30 years ago, when I was in college the first time around, a girl from the apartment complex I lived in went missing. Several of us from the college hiking club volunteered to help search the area where a witness claimed to have seen her the day before she disappeared. This was a more civilized time when the police welcomed help from "unorganized militia".

I was one of the three that found her body. It was pretty badly chewed up and the medical examiner later determined she bad been shot with a 22 caliber but the bullet didn't kill her. Cause of death was blood loss and trauma from animal bites.

Some of the dried blood on a rock originally suspected as the "murder" weapon was from coyotes. She apparently tried to fight back so was still alive and conscious when the coyotes came out that night for a free meal.

Don't tell me coyotes don't attack and kill humans. I know better.

The poor excuse for man who shot her and left her to die eventually turned himself in. He was convicted but I don't remember the exact charges.

Hat Tip to The War on Guns: Coyote Ugly

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