Some Dallas residents will be relieved to find out conservation officers are trying to get rid of a family of coyotes that has denned up in their neighbourhood, but others want the wildlife left alone.
Acting Insp. Darcy MacPhee of the B.C. Conservation Service said Thursday his officers have shot two of the five coyotes that have killed numerous pets and become bolder in the past several months.
"It's going to take some time. It's a difficult place to work. There are some people unhappy about what we're doing. We're trying to be discreet," he said.
"It is definitely a difficult job."
While coyotes often take one or two house cats or small dogs per month in some parts of town, the disappearance of many more pets than that in Dallas have prompted calls of concern to his department.
"That area is certainly generating considerably more complaints and more pets being killed than we're seeing in other areas."
Adding to the concern are reports the coyotes have followed people walking their dogs and refused to run when there are attempts to shoo them away.
"It's the boldness and approaching people. Everyone in the neighbourhood now is walking with sticks, they're quite upset about some of the stuff they've had to endure," said MacPhee.
"We see it as an escalation. We know from experience it will not be long before someone is injured."
Coyotes are too smart to go into humane traps, and poisoning or other traps can't be used because of nearby pets, he said. Officers have to be careful when shooting because there are homes in the area.
This family of coyotes has made cats and dogs their only source of food, so they're hunting for them in the area.
His department's concern is the coyotes are getting so brazen, they could end up hurting someone walking a pet. Last year, a Revelstoke woman out with her dog suffered several bad bites from a coyote that was going after her pet, MacPhee said.
"A lot of eyewitnesses have come forward and provided lots of information about being followed and harassed and having to protect pets on leashes."
Ann and Bill Kermode lost their white Bichon Frise, Bud, to a coyote who fatally attacked the little dog in their back yard.
Ann Kermode said Thursday she'd like the coyotes gone.
"I don't like to see them get shot. That seems to be what they (the conservation officers) feel they have to do."
She said she didn't know about the coyote family until her dog was killed. She and her husband have seen only one coyote come down the hillside in their 12 years on Dallas Drive.
Bud wanted out at 4:30 a.m. the day he died, which was unusual. Kermode said her husband went out with him, then came back in the house.
The coyote attacked at lightning speed. They got Bud away and rushed him to the vet, but he was too badly mauled to survive.
They thought Bud would be safe in his own back yard, she said.
"If we get another dog, we will keep him on a leash and won't let him out by himself. It's too late now for our dog. It's just such an awful way for a dog to die. Terrible," she said.
Claudette Laffey and Sandi Mikuse don't think the coyotes should pay the price of people encroaching on their space and were upset to find out the coyotes are being shot.
Laffey said the public perception of danger is no reason to kill the coyotes.
"It's only a perception based on fear, not reality. People are fearful based on a lack of education about these animals," she said.
If residents kept their pets indoors and dogs on leashes when they're outside, they would be safe, she said. Even if the coyotes are killed, there are still owls, eagles, bears and cougars in the area that will prey upon pets, she said.
"We've lived here 25 years. We would have to kill all wildlife for you to let your pets out safely," said Laffey, who owns a Jack Russell terrier and an indoor cat.
She felt the conservation officers should be teaching residents how to keep their pets safe.
"They should be educating people how to co-exist safely with these animals," she said.
Mikuse said she was born in Jasper, Alta., where wildlife is protected by law and where residents live with bears, elk and coyotes on the streets.
"It's more about educating people than killing the wildlife. If the dogs and cats were kept in their homes, they wouldn't have that food source," she said.
"I do feel the situation right now is a highly emotional one. The coyotes just see food. They're trying to survive."
MacPhee said the warning signs are there that the coyotes are getting dangerous.
"It comes down to risk. And the risk is too high for people living in that area," he said.
"It's a classic case of wildlife versus people and their pets. And unfortunately, the wildlife usually loses."