The logical conclusion to the great Capitol Hill eastern cottontail mystery of twenty eighteen could be playing out this spring with reports of at least one urban coyote on the prowl in some of the neighborhood’s busiest areas — including a spotting Tuesday night at, of all places, Bellevue and Pike.
“I saw it last night same area, definitely a coyote. I made my Uber driver stop because I thought it was a dog but it was not. So sad,” one commenter on a neighborhood message board wrote.
Maybe not so sad. Urban coyotes keep a relatively low profile but have appeared in increasing numbers around Seattle. They aren’t necessarily ill or starving. They live here. On Capitol Hill, they are most typically spotted traveling between the Arboretum and areas around Interlaken, Volunteer Park, or the St. Mark’s Greenbelt. You’ll usually see them around dawn or dusk but there are occasional daytime reports, too.
What’s up with the coyote seen in the middle of Pike/Pine isn’t exactly clear. That animal or possibly another also generated reports near 13th and E Olive St. and farther east near Miller Community Center.
Perhaps the spread of eastern cottontails noted last year by CHS has created a new feeding opportunity in the central city. Perhaps the coyote was just lost.
CHS has a message out to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s North Puget Sound – Region 4 office to check in on any increase in reports for our area. Anecdotally, the person we talked to at the office says spring is when WDFW gets tons of calls from cities across the area. For the most part, it’s business as usual.
In general, there is no need to be afraid. Coyotes aren’t known to be threatening to humans though wildlife officials note they can be a danger to pets. In the scheme of things, people in places like Laurelhurst are more dangerous. In 2012, the Department of Agriculture was brought in to hunt down and kill a Volunteer Park-area coyote after it exhibited aggressive behavior. The field necropsy performed by the federal biologist showed the coyote was around six or seven years old. It survived what is described as a “traumatic hip injury” at some point in its life and “had a normal number of external parasites, such as ticks and lice.”
Unless the coyote is obviously injured, ill, or in danger, best to leave it as it is lest complaints force the WDFW to act. Efforts to track carnivores in Seattle by the folks at the Woodland Park Zoo, meanwhile, are still plans in progress so you’ll just have to turn to social media to let your neighbors know about your lucky sighting. The zoo’s FAQ on urban coyotes is here.
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