Missing cats and coyote problems near Canyon Lakes - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Missing cats and coyote problems near Canyon Lakes

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Geoff Harvey's cat was taken by a coyote. Geoff Harvey's cat was taken by a coyote.
Matt Winter's cat was taken by a coyote. Matt Winter's cat was taken by a coyote.

KENNEWICK, WA - People who live near Canyon Lakes in Kennewick are worried for their animals' and kids' safety with recent coyote activity. 

Matt Winter lost his cat just over a week ago, and for him it was a terrifying day. Winter says his 13-year-old cat was snatched up right in front of his eyes.

"Bang and I looked up at the sliding glass door and she ran up to the sliding glass door, and it's a big coyote," said Winter.

His loss prompted a "Me Too" movement in the community after his neighbor posted his story on the community Facebook page. After seeing the post another resident, Geoff Harvey messaged Winter saying his cat was taken too. Harvey says he even saw it all happen on his backyard security footage.

"Two to three weeks ago is when we lost ours and that's when I started seeing more on the community group," said Harvey.

Just the other night, another lady, Ronni Dreisbach says she was outside watching her two dogs when a coyote surrounded them. Luckily, her animals were not taken, but that moment was too frightening for Dreisbach. 

"The coyote is no more than two to three feet away," she said. "I did what I was supposed to do; I lifted my arms, I screamed 'go away,' - not a budge."

Fish and Wildlife officials say the reason why coyote attacks have been on the rise is because foot trapping, a way to catch the animals until they can be picked up, was banned in 2001. In turn, the coyote population has increased in the area.

Don Caraway, a trapper for the Wildlife Department also says another factor is because of the growing human population in that particular area, encroaching on the wildlife's natural home. He adds that typically foot-trapping is the most viable solution to catch them, because the older coyotes are well versed and box trapping doesn't usually work. However, not being able to use foot trapping, residents are taking matters into their own hands, trying to find any way to keep their loved ones safe. For example, Dreisbach says she recently invested in wolf urine.

"They fear wolves bad," Dreisbach explained. "This wolf urine works for elk, coyotes, and a few other big animals."

But residents say they don't think this is enough to keep their families safe, and something even larger needs to happen.

"I have kids and we have community members who are looking for options and don't know where to turn," said resident Chris Laurion. Laurion is a former military man and says if it came down to it, he feels well versed to use a firearm as a defensive mechanism, which he says is legal on residental property if someone is to use it as a defense. But, Laurion says, much of the population doesn't feel comfortable resorting to this, and this shouldn't be the solution.

The residents have also reached out to law enforcement for help, but officers say they cannot help unless it's an immediate threat.

Caraway says if this is a big enough issue, the Department could issue a permit to allow only trappers to foot-trap the coyotes and move them out of Canyon Lakes.

Until that happens, and if it happens, the message is keep your animals inside.