Three coyotes attacked a Washington man in his own backyard last week, prompting officials to warn people who are vulnerable to encountering potential "urban coyote issues" to be more vigilant.
According to Q13Fox.com, Faron Scarberry of Kent, Wash., was ambushed by the three coyotes last Friday while he was out with his dog in his backyard.
“They were coming around the bush and I guess they were going after my puggle,” Scarberry, whose house is located close to a school, told KCPQ-TV.
"One of them lunged up toward me and I kind of pushed it away with my hand and its front claws scratched my hand and wrist," Scarberry said of the encounter. "Then one of the grabbed me by the pant leg and started shaking my leg so I just started kicking and hitting at them to get them off of me and they ran back under the fence."
Following the attack, Scarberry rushed to the emergency room, where he was treated for a coyote bite and scratches. He reportedly got 24 rabies shots in his leg and two in his hip.
"I love wildlife," Scarberry told KOMO News, "I like looking out the deck, looking at them. But when they're starting to threaten the animals and people in the neighborhood, it's gone a little bit overboard."
He added that though the attack didn't hurt him too badly, he's now afraid for the safety of the children in the neighborhood.
"The elementary school is right at the back of our property and the kids walk here to and from school," Scarberry told KCPQ-TV. "I don't want any of the kids to get hurt."
Sgt. Kim Chandler of Washington's Department of Fish and Wildlife told KOMO News that "urban coyote issues are pretty constant," especially during this time of year.
"They rely heavily on fruit. All the fruit is gone now, so they're now in scavenging mode -- cats, little dogs are a treat, and they'll eat them," Chandler said, adding that people who are dealing with a coyote problem should keep "garbage away and pets inside."
While coyote attacks on humans are relatively uncommon, the Christian Science Monitor noted in a 2009 report that the dangers posed by the animals may be mounting in light of burgeoning coyote populations in urban regions.
"Coyotes have become the most abundant large predatory animal on the continent," Ralph Maughan, who maintains a popular wildlife blog, told the Monitor at the time. His comments came in the wake of the shocking death of a young Canadian singer-songwriter who was mauled to death by a pair of coyotes.
"Incidents like this are uncommon but bound to happen, when you consider there are millions of coyotes, some of them living in the middle of populated areas," Maughan continued.
If there is a coyote attack in your neighborhood or a coyote who appears to be aggressive, you are encouraged to contact your state's Department of Fish and Wildlife. For more information about coyotes in Washington state, click here.