By Adelle Engmann
There is potential to encounter wildlife at both the Pierce College Puyallup and Fort Steilacoom campuses, as they are located in urban and suburban areas. It’s important for students and faculty to know proper protocol when wildlife is spotted.
Jose Nieves, the district health and safety specialist at the Fort Steilacoom campus, addressed procedures to take in the event a coyote or other wildlife is spotted.
- Don’t run, but walk away slowly – running may trigger a chase response from the animal.
- In case the coyote gets aggressive, throw sticks and clumps of dirt at the animal without hurting it; continue to be loud and bold to scare it away.
- Don’t corner the animal – give it an escape route.
Coyote howls are often heard near the Garnero Child Care Center at the Puyallup campus as ambulance sirens blare by. Nieves said that coyote attacks against humans are rare since they are generally timid animals who stay away from human contact. However, if provoked, any animal becomes a potential danger for humans.
Coyotes have an average lifespan of six to eight years. They are most active very early at sunrise or late at night.
Coyotes use different types of communication howls to alert their packs. They use long howls to report their location, short barks to warn of danger, yips when reuniting with the pack and high-pitched barks to gather pups.
If students and staff are concerned about coyote sightings around either of the campuses, Nieves suggests walking in groups or carrying noisemakers or sticks. If a student or faculty member sees any wild animal around campus, they are instructed to contact Campus Safety immediately, who will follow up with a local animal control site.
Staff at Campus Safety also send a text notification via the Pierce College Emergency Notification System in the event of any reported animal sighting on either campus. Nieves recommends that all students and staff sign up for the alert in their student portal.
Photo courtesy The Seattle Times
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