SUMMIT COUNTY - Recent reports of coyotes attacking dogs around Frisco haven't yet reached the Colorado Division of wildlife, but biologists with the agency said the rash of recent sightings does not signify a coyote problem.
The animals are common inhabitants of the high country, said Sean Shepherd, a wildlife manager for the state agency. They thrive in connection with human populations. Since wolves were extirpated from Colorado, coyotes don't have any natural predators to keep their number in check.
"I haven't heard anything about attacks," Shepherd said. Earlier this year, members of a den of coyotes on the Frisco peninsula were behaving aggressively toward dogs, he added.
"In every case, it was a problem because the dogs were off-leash, plus they probably had pups," Shepherd said, referring to defensive behavior on the part of the wild animals.
The recent hearsay reports are of coyotes brazenly attacking dogs, raising concerns similar to last winter, when coyotes were suspected of killing several pets near Breckenridge.
Shepherd said there are no indications that there has been unusual wildlife activity. Most of the problems can be avoided if people take proper precautions to protect their pets.
That means keeping dogs on a leash out in the woods and not letting cats hang out in coyote-hunting territory, he explained.
Coyotes are extremely adaptable animals and rapidly adjust to changing conditions. In the past, wildlife managers have found that coyote populations can actually expand rather than decline in response to eradication attempts. As a result, a variety of lethal and non-lethal control methods are used to manage populations and control damage.
Shepherd said that local coyotes have been become very accustomed to having humans around.
"Out in eastern Colorado, where they're still hunted, coyotes run when they see people," he said.