Animals are bold, brainy and brazen

They’re back. Actually, they never left.

Coyotes have been part of the Lake Oswego scene now for a long time, but every few years some incidents arise that raise concern.

“People aren’t used to seeing coyotes in the daytime,” said Diana Smith-Bouwer of the city of Lake Oswego’s Citizen Information Center. “When this happens they might become afraid.” by: OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE - Coyotes can cause fear in people. But a little knowledge about them will help a lot.

Smith-Bouwer has been keeping track of coyote doings for a long time in Lake Oswego, especially lately because of some incidents that raised fear and dread.

Two coyotes seemed to be playing mind games with Emma Gomez as she walked down Country Club Road toward downtown Lake Oswego the morning of Oct. 31. Instead of being like the boy who cried “wolf,” people thought Gomez might be crying “coyote.” Only in her case, there really were coyotes. As the coyotes seemed to track her, Gomez became so concerned she stopped a passing motorist.

“When I stopped a guy to help me, the coyotes went into the woods,” Gomez said. “When he drove away, the coyotes came back out and started following me again.”

So Gomez stopped another motorist, this one a woman driver who did not believe Gomez’s tale of being tracked by coyotes, and she drove away.

“I thought, ‘What do I do now?’” Gomez said. “I started running, and the coyotes started running.”

With the coyotes apparently hot on her trail, Gomez called her employer Jennifer Black and asked to be picked up, and Black quickly showed up. She didn’t see any coyotes either, but she had known Gomez for 25 years and trusted her.

“I heard Emma’s panic,” Black said. “She was so totally panic stricken she could barely talk.”

Gomez’s experience made Black concerned about her own well-being and that of other people living in the area. She immediately sent out emails to nearby Lake Oswego neighborhoods to try to find out how bad the coyote problem is.

“Now I’m afraid,” Black said. “I don’t want something like this to happen to other people in the community. I have two dogs, and I don’t want coyotes attacking them when we go for walks.

“I want to know how I can protect myself. Maybe this was a fluke, but I’m taking no chances.”

On Sunday, just as she was leaving for church, Sue Sommers saw how deadly coyotes could be to pets.

“I thought it was a big, huge dog,” Sommers said. “I thought it was the most beautiful German shepherd I’d ever seen. It was massive. It was going to every house (on Cobb Way), stopping under every window. I followed it and it stared at me. It gave me chills.”

Soon, Sommers became more upset.

“I saw it pick up a kitten by the neck, and it didn’t make a sound,” Sommers said. “I began crying. I chased it to the end of Cobb Way hoping it would drop the kitten, but the coyote went into the woods. Later it came back to Cobb Way for another feast.

“This coyote was bold, brazen and not skittish. I’ve lived here since 1993, and other coyotes I’ve seen were scroungy and hungry. But this one was very well nourished.”

Claire McGuire, another resident of Cobb Way, lost a cat to a coyote on Sunday. Previously, she had lost a cat to a coyote attack in August.

“I saw one walking right down the middle of the street, very composed,” McGuire said.

Smith-Bouwer feels sympathy for people who have fearful encounters with coyotes, and as a cat owner she empathizes with their loss of a pet. But she does not want people to panic, either.

“People often equate a coyote with a wolf,” Smith-Bouwer said. “But coyotes look a lot bigger than they are. They’re usually 25 to 35 pounds of lots of fur and bony legs.”

As for dealing with a coyote encounter, Smith-Bouwer said, the worst thing to do is run away, even though it is the most instinctive reaction. The best thing to do is be loud and obnoxious. One excellent tactic is to carry an Altoids tin with rocks in it while going on walks. Shaking the tin can cause a terrible racket.

“Coyotes are timid, but they’re curious, too,” Smith-Bouwer said. “When something runs from them, their instinct is to chase.”

Coyotes are reportedly immune to attempts to eradicate them because when this happens they can respond by breeding like crazy.

“Coyotes are a national concern — not just in Lake Oswego,” Smith-Bouwer said. “They’re in downtown Chicago, they’re in LA. They’re expanding their territory. There’s lots of food all around them. Coyotes are here to stay.”

Smith-Bouwer has a plethora of information about coyotes and other animals at the Citizen Information Center. People with coyote concerns can reach her at 503-635-0257 or go to the website

While there is fear of coyote attacks, other animals attack, too, including raccoons, owls and rats.

“I know someone who had a rat come up through their toilet,” Smith-Bouwer said. “Now they keep a brick on their toilet lid.”

Cliff Newell can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and 503-636-1281, ext. 105.

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