Coyotes have reportedly been chasing skiers at Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort, ID, and one female skier was bitten, Idaho Fish and Game (‘IDFG’) reported in a press release. In addition, there have been several reports of highly unusual coyote behavior in North Idaho, according to the IDFG, particularly in the city of Sandpoint in Bonner County.
In early January, IDFG received several reports of coyotes chasing skiers at Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort. Fish and Game staff worked closely with the resort staff to develop a plan to kill the coyotes in the interest of public safety. Still, unfortunately, one female skier was bitten before the animals could be caught. Although the injuries were reportedly minor, the Schweitzer Mountain Resort is taking the matter seriously and cooperating with IDFG to trap and kill the coyotes.
According to a post on Facebook, the victim was skiing in a group in the trees at Schweitzer Mountain. A coyote started chasing the skiers, and the victim was cornered at a tree and attacked her arm and leg. The skier, identified on social media as ‘Sofia,’ allegedly took the coyote in a headlock and screamed for help. Other skiers came to the rescue and fended the coyote off with their ski poles. Schweitzer Mountain Ski Patrol also went to the aid, and the female skier received rabies shots at the medical center as a precautionary measure.
Following the incidents at Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort, IDFG received reports of two coyotes roaming a business district near downtown Sandpoint last week on Sunday, January 22, 2023. The coyotes seemed comfortable in the presence of humans during daylight hours, which is very unusual for the species and causes concerns. One of these two coyotes has since been captured and killed. The other one remains at large. The body of the deceased coyote has been retained for further testing.
It is unknown what is causing these coyotes to behave so abnormally. The most probable explanation is that they have become accustomed to humans and thus less afraid of them, most likely due to people feeding them. Reports of coyotes being comfortable near and even attacking humans are extremely rare, as they are often afraid of humans and typically nocturnal. Coyotes can carry rabies, but there are very few documented cases in Idaho, so IDFG deems it unlikely. Furthermore, pup season for coyotes is not until April and May, so the attacks cannot be ascribed to protecting their brood. When wild animals become used to humans, their behavior can become unpredictable and sometimes dangerous. It is suspected this was the case with the coyotes involved in these incidents. “Please do not approach the animal or attempt to feed, touch or harass it,” T.J. Ross, regional IDFG communications manager, emphasized.
If anyone encounters a coyote on Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort or in and around downtown Sandpoint, contact the IDFG’s Panhandle Regional office immediately at (208) 769-1414 to report the incident.
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