Yikes! Dog Attacked by Coyotes in Rock Creek Park by the Golf Course

According to the National Park Service:

Are there coyotes in Rock Creek Park?

YES- The first recorded sighting in the park was in May 2004; they were confirmed by park staff in September 2004. Sightings have been recorded continuously since 2004. Most of the sightings have been in the upper section of the park between Military and Wise Roads. Several sightings have been reported in the neighborhoods adjacent to the park as well. Presently, there is no estimate of the population size in the park but the number is believed to be small.

Are they dangerous to people?

Coyotes generally are not interested in confronting people, even small children. Of course, parents should always keep an eye on children while in the park, but coyotes pose no special danger. They are usually not aggressive toward humans unless humans attempt to feed or interact with coyotes. While there are reports of coyotes attacking and killing a person, these types of incidents are extremely rare. Remember, coyotes are wild animals. They can be seen during the day, but they are most active in the evening and at night when the park is closed to pedestrian visitors.

Are they dangerous to pets?

MAYBE- Coyotes will hunt house cats and small dogs. However, if your pet is leashed (as DC and National Park Service regulations require) and you and your pet are on a trail (as Rock Creek Park regulations require), a coyote will likely not try to attack.

What should I do if I see a coyote?

You can stop and watch, but do not approach it. As with any wild animal, if it feels threatened by someone coming toward it or chasing it, it may feel the need to protect itself. DO NOT FEED or attempt to feed them. Once a wild animal gets accustomed to being fed by humans there is much more likelihood that an individual will get bitten by an animal looking for food.

If you see a coyote in the Washington, D.C. portion of Rock Creek Park, report the sighting to Resource Management Specialist Ken Ferebee at 202-895-6221. Let Ken know the date, time and location you saw the animal. Try to be as specific as possible. Leave your name and phone number so Ken can call you back if he has more questions.”

25 Comment

  • And that’s why leash laws exist… I’m so tired of ignorant dog owners in this city…

    • Relax. Leash laws exist to protect people in densely populated areas from anxious dogs. This clearly a well behaved and good dog owners; dogs need to run, why not a park with no one around?

      • The park is not a place with nobody around. People use the entire park for running and hiking. Dogs should always be on leash. Walking your dog off leash is completely irresponsible, against the law, and disrespectful to other uses or the park and other dog owners. That she went on local TV brazenly describing taking her dog off leash in the park shows how completely irresponsible and self-centered some dog owners are.

      • Nope thats why there are dog parks, you dont get to decide where and when its safe for your dog to be off its leash in public.

      • There are also horses in Rock Creek Park that could be startled by off-leash dogs and could cause serious damage to themselves, their rider and even the dog if spooked.

    • +1million…as a dog owner I couldn’t agree more!

    • leash laws exist to prevent coyote attacks? I had no idea.

    • Leash laws exist because of coyotes?

    • +100000

      Anonymous at 12:42…leash laws exist for a lot of reasons. Coyotes may not be the main reason, but clearly danger to your pet is the broader idea. If you don’t like the laws, try changing them before breaking them. Why not let your dog run? Because it’s dangerous to bikers, runners, children and people who don’t want to be confronted by your dog. And no, I don’t believe you have the most well behaved dog ever that always listens to you. It’s just not true. Dogs are animals.

      Leash your dog. It’s not optional.

      • epric002

        as a fellow dog owner, +1000

      • Dog owner who agrees 100%. I see people with off-leash dogs all over the city- not just in the park. Leash-laws aren’t just for fun- they’re for the safety of everyone including your pet.

      • maxwell smart

        Just to snowball on this – not only should your dog be on A leash, the distance between you are dog should be minimal at best. As a runner in this area, I don’t know how many times I have across people with their dogs on retractable leashes and the dog is 20 feet away, which has effectively obstructed the entire trail with a tripping hazard. Retractable leashes give you very little control over your pet.

        • Retractable leashes are actually illegal to use in public in DC. The lease law clearly states that you must have a non-retractable/fixed leash on your dog when in public spaces.

      • Let us not forget that leash laws also exist because dogs have prey instincts and will follow/chase animals into traffic or far enough away that they become lost. Leash laws protect people and dogs.

  • So the story emphasis that it’s not only the law to keep your dog on leash, but that also for their own safety they should be on leash and what does the opening scene of the pre-recorded segment show? The dog off leash.

    • The news story never actually states that it’s the law to keep your dog on a leash. It’s mentioned twice to keep your dog on a leash, but neither time does it say that it’s a rule. If anything the story fails to emphasize that it’s the law to leash your pet.

  • Where was the cat to come to the rescue and chase off the coyote?

  • pablo .raw

    It’s just a matter of time before the chupacabra starts killing animals in RCP

  • anonymouse_dianne

    Actually, coyotes are notoriously shy. I hope the dog is up to date on rabies shots. I heard one coyote expert say there are coyotes living in Chicago. But no one ever sees them. Also dogs, coyotes, and/or wolves can interbreed and produce fertile offspring, so all the more reason to keep them on leash. The couple who are the wolf experts and go camping out in the woods to study them take their dogs with them, because the dogs “speak wolf.”

  • here’s why you need to keep your dog on a leash


    …and why every child needs a best friend / cat.

  • Saw one about a month ago, middle of the afternoon, just off the Melvin Hazan trail near Pierce Mill. Lots of people and dogs were around; the coyote stayed about 50-60 yards off the trail, and moved into deeper woods away from us, but still odd to see one in the daytime like that.

  • I hate to give an unscientific estimate, but when I run the trails of Rock Creek Park, I would say 75% of dogs are not on leaches. There are the rustic unpaved hiking trails. Most of them off leaches are friendly, but about every other run you come across a dog and its owner where they have to give the dog the clamp down around the collar because it will lunge at you.

  • saf

    5 or 10 years ago, Joe Martin posted some pictures he took of a coyote walking through Grant Circle. Wish I could remember where – email list or the Petworth News blog probably.

  • When we lived by Carter Barron, we’d take our 100 lb lab-mix dog for a walk by the fields at the entrance and one night @ about 10pm, our dog went bezerker, as if he wanted to go run and play (or escape, IDK). I hadn’t noticed it (I’ve learned to be more observant since then), but we were surrounded by 5 coyotes on 3 sides and 16th on the fourth. That was the first/only time I ever walked my dog backwards out of the park. I suppose it could have been a pack of dogs, but I seriously doubt it.

    And as a dog owner who frequents Rock Creek Park – always, always, always keep your dog on a leash. So many reasons why that’s a good rule.

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