Mammoth Lakes local harassed by aggressive coyote near Hot Creek

A MONO COUNTY SHERIFF officer fires a shot to scare off the coyote. DAKOTA SNIDER PHOTO


Hiker bit while protecting dogs, same coyote threatened another dog walker that morning

MAMMOTH LAKES— Mammoth resident Dakota Snider put in six miles in the Owens Valley with a couple dogs before making one last stop in the hills behind Mammoth Airport before heading home. Fifteen minutes after arriving, he and the worn-out dogs encountered an aggressive coyote, and by early evening he was receiving his first round of rabies shots and reliving what happened that afternoon.

No stranger to spending time outside, especially in the Eastern Sierra, Snider puts off-the-beaten path miles behind him several times per week. This time, he had his blue heeler, Timber and his friend’s red heeler, Autumn in tow, and the dogs were pretty worn out after hours of off-the-leash freedom down in the Owens Valley. Snider had some time to kill and wanted to make one last stop at a spot near Hot Creek that had a “super bloom” after that monster winter that delivered record snow to the Sierra, and it didn’t take long for things to “get western” for him and the dogs.

THIS COYOTE cornered and ultimately bit Mammoth resident Dakota Snider and two dogs in the Hot Creek area. DAKOTA SNIDER PHOTO

“The dogs were walking a little behind me, and I was just looking around not paying much attention and had headphones in, and out of the corner of my eye I caught movement,” Snider told Western Outdoor News. When I looked, up there was a coyote at full sprint a little over 20 feet away B-lining straight for the dogs that were right by my feet. I immediately grabbed the two dogs and started screaming back the coyote and it stopped about 8 feet from me.”

According to Snider, the dogs “went crazy” and wanted to run toward the coyote which was “barking, chirping and growling, and very clearly not stoked that we were there.” Since they weren’t far from town, he called his friend who owned one of the dogs and asked her to come out to help him try to scare it off, but it wouldn’t leave, keeping a 20-foot perimeter around Snider and the dogs and making several more rushes toward them.

“My biggest concern was the coyote doing damage to the dogs,” said Snider. “The hard part was holding both dogs, one with each hand, while trying to throw rocks at the coyote. I held one dog with my hand and my dog between my legs so I could throw rocks with my other hand.”

In the time it took Snider’s friend (Jetsabel) to get to him, the coyote was getting really close, so he called 9-1-1 and a Mono County Sheriff was sent to the scene. Ultimately, the coyote had Snider cornered and kept getting closer.

“I picked up both dogs, and the coyote came straight at my ankles,” said Snider. “So I’m holding two dogs, screaming at the coyote and talking to Sheriff (on the phone). I kicked at it and it bit at my foot, and broke skin. Jetsabel arrived right before the Sheriff, and as soon as the dogs heard her on the hill behind us, the dogs ran to her and the coyote charged her and the dogs. I got between the coyote and the dogs, and she had trekking poles that we were making noise with, but it was still aggressive. At that point the first officer arrived, and he ran through the sagebrush to us, and the coyote still wouldn’t leave. He fired a first shot (sidearm) and it ran maybe 20 feet away but continued to try and circle back toward the group. A second officer arrived, took his rifle out and shot toward it as well, and it still tried to circle back. The whole incident from the time it came at me until sheriff officers shot at it was a little over 30 minutes.”

At that point, Snider, Jetsabel and the dogs had made their way to the officers’ vehicles, and Snider was taken to the hospital for a series of 10 precautionary shots for rabies. Having spent a lot of time outside and around wild animals, including coyotes, Snider told WON it was a very healthy-looking coyote that he did not believe was sick. Subsequent tests did not reveal any “saliva DNA” around the bite area on Snider’s foot, but he still received a second round of vaccines, which are no picnic.

Following the incident, Snider posted videos of both the coyote patrolling that “perimeter” as well as the first officer firing a shot toward it to his private social media accounts. Shortly after, another local reached out and said he also had an issue with an aggressive coyote in the same area on the same day, earlier that morning.”

“He was out in the exact same dirt road area and was aggressively followed by the coyote that also tried to come after his dog,” said Snider. “He ended up taking his dog back across the paved Hot Creek Road, and the coyote stopped following them. When we compared spots on the map, it was almost the identical spot.”

The case was ultimately handed off to local Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) officers who took Snider’s shoes for a DNA sample, and they definitely have plans to track the coyote.

“Long story short, I was barely nicked by the coyote and I am very happy our dogs didn’t get attacked,” said Snider. “PSA to dog owners who let dogs run on dirt roads: this is the time of year you need to be paying attention. If this happened earlier in the day when those dogs were full of energy, there’s no way they would have been by my feet when the coyote first came in and it would have been a different situation.”