Wolf, coyote attacks on pet dogs have officials issuing warnings


Wild animals are attacking dogs more often, and that has officials warning people to take steps that help protect their pets.

A dog, who was walking off a leash with its owner on a trail near Brighton Beach in Duluth around noon Tuesday, was attacked and killed by a lone wolf, North Shore Veterinary Hospital posted on Facebook.

The clinic shared the information so people are aware, noting the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources says wolves are becoming more common in Duluth and surrounding areas. One reason for this is the more concentrated population of deer – a favorite meal for wolves – in urban areas, and lower populations of the mammal in rural areas.

Keith Olson, a conservation officer with the DNR, told the Star Tribune the golden retriever-mix named Leo was "in the wrong place at the wrong time," noting attacks like this are rare, but becoming more common.

Last winter, at least five dogs were killed in the Duluth area, the Duluth News Tribune reported.

North Shore Veterinary Hospital says pet owners should go outside with their pets, especially at night, and keep dogs on the leash when going for a walk.

The DNR's website says human population growth is limiting available habitat for wolves, which is increasing the chance of human-wolf encounters.

There has never been a case of a healthy wolf attacking a human in North America, reports note. In 2013, a teenager was attacked by a wolf in north-central Minnesota; the incident was called the state’s first confirmed wolf attack on a human. Officials determined the wolf had severe deformities and brain damage.

For more on interactions between humans and wolves, click here.

Coyotes attacking dogs

This attack comes not long after a Twin Cities community issued a warning about coyotes and small dogs.

The Wayzata Police Department issued an alert after a resident's small dog was attacked by a coyote. It says coyotes sightings have increased in the area, noting many suburbs have had issues dealing with them.

Officials say smaller dogs and cats can be vulnerable to attacks if they're unsupervised – especially at night.

Ellen DeHaven, who lives in the area, posted about her dog Pooh on Facebook as a warning to others. The pooch was killed by a coyote at the end of January.

In a comment on DeHaven's post, Mimi Bendickson wrote coyotes don't just attack small animals – her parent's German shepherd was attacked by coyotes during the day in the west metro.

The DNR doesn't track coyote-dog interactions, Jason Abraham, with the DNR, told BringMeTheNews, but he did say coyote populations are "stable to slightly expanding" in central and southern Minnesota, where habitat conditions "have been favorable for coyotes due to warmer weather and recent mild winters."

However, coyote populations have been declining slightly in northern Minnesota. This could be due to competition with wolves, Abraham notes.

To protect pets from coyotes, the DNR recommends supervising pets when they got outside, and also vaccinating all pets for rabies, distemper, parvo and other diseases. For more tips on keeping your pet safe – and how to keep coyotes away from your home – click here.

The DNR says healthy, wild coyotes tend to avoid people, noting no attacks on humans have ever happened in Minnesota.

However, coyotes have attacked people in other states. Those attacks likely happen after a coyote became accustomed to people, or was being fed by them, the DNR says.

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