Try telling that to 22-year-old Andrew Dickehage, who came face-to-face with three coyotes early Monday morning near Niwot, Colo., on his way to work and ended up in the hospital with extensive wounds.
According to Dickehage, he was walking along a stretch of road at about 5 a.m. when he heard a noise behind him. He turned just in time to see one of the coyotes lunging at him.
Dickehage held a wide stance to avoid being knocked down and kept the animals from biting his neck, but the coyotes were still able to sink their teeth and claws into him. When one clamped down on his hand, Dickehage had enough.
“It started to tug on my hand and I could feel it starting to tear through my skin, so I took my flashlight and hit it over the side of the head to get it to let go,” Dickehage told reporters. “As soon as I got it to let go then another one went to lunge at me. All I really thought to do was swing and knock it to get it from jumping at me again.”
After several exhausting minutes, the coyotes took off, leaving Dickehage alone and bloodied with cuts and scrapes all over his arms, hands and face.
Despite the vicious assault, Dickehage said he was just grateful it was him instead of a little kid or an elderly person, who might not have been able to defend themselves as easily.
Wildlife officials told Dickehage the behavior was uncommon for coyotes; in fact, officials found a dead hawk nearby and speculated Dickehage inadvertently disturbed the coyotes while they were feeding. Nevertheless, two of the coyotes were tracked down and killed by officials as a safeguard.
“They may be small, but you don’t want to underestimate,” Dickehage said.
Check out the video from KCNC-TV in Denver.
Indeed, these predators—while smaller in size than their cousins, gray wolves—are formidable in packs and are capable of bringing down whitetail bucks, putting the species on hunters’ enemies list.
But they can also pose a threat to humans, and Dickehage’s encounter is just the latest of many coyote- and wolf-related incidents. In January, a man in Kent, Wash., was attacked by a couple coyotes in his lawn, suffering the same types of injuries as Dickehage. In August, a pack of wolves chased down a flock of over 2,400 sheep, killing 176 of them—fewer than 10 were bitten, one was partially eaten and the rest asphyxiated as the flock huddled in a panicked mass—and in a separate incident, another wolf was bold enough to attack a teenager from behind at a Minnesota campground.
Still think these predators aren’t dangerous to humans?