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A couple of years ago, just before the school run, as a weak winter sun struggled to light-up the sky, I went outside to put some trash in the bin on the street. As I turned to head back to the house, I came face to face with a coyote. This in suburban Providence, RI. He looked at me. I looked at him. My hand went to my gun. The coyote went towards Presidents Avenue. I mention this because a) coyote attacks are a thing, b) so are bear attacks, and c) a gun is a good thing to have on your person when animals attack. For example . . .

Frank Frana said his wife was sitting on the back porch at about 7:45 p.m. when she noticed a pair of bears running in the area. She was concerned because two of her children, 10 and 11, had just ridden to a neighbor’s home on their bikes, so she went to check on them.

When she got to the garage, “she noticed five bears going through garbage that they had pulled out of the garage,” Frana said. “One of the bears raised and knocked her down. The bear mauled her for a short period of time,and somehow she broke free.”

She made her way back inside the home and collapsed in the foyer. Frana and the couple’s eldest son, Drew, 15, found her there, and Drew immediately called 911.

“She was lying on the floor crying, and there was blood everywhere,” Frana recalled. He estimated police, fire and wildlife officers were on the scene within 10 minutes.

“It was short, it was quick, but it was a close call,” he said.

Just in case this story [via] isn’t harrowing enough, Mrs. Frana told NBC’s Today, “I could hear teeth ‘going through my scalp.'” Don’t you just hate it when that happens? I’ve got one word of advice for those who live in areas shared with dangerous four-legged predators and (for small dog owners) raptors . . . wait. I think a picture will suffice.

460 S&W revolver (courtesy The Truth About Guns)

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  1. Raptors? I assume you mean birds, but with a .460 Magnum, it would seem more appropriate against velociraptors.

    • A “raptor” is a “bird of prey”, and a pretty widely used colloquialism, as it doesn’t refer to a specific order or family but just a set of families and some genuses(geni?). The ” raptor” part of velociraptor shares the same root, “veloci-” just meaning “fast” or “incapable-of-eating-two-small-children-for-some-bewildering-reason”.

      I live in black bear country and just keep a rifle by the door in case it gets too friendly, but I’ve read a number of studies that show spray is actually more effective than a (adequately large caliber) gun at stopping an attack in progress.

      • While I’m familiar with this popular definition of “raptor”, I feel unsettled about it. To me, “raptors” are hawks, falcons, kestrels, kites and the like.

        This is how I grew up understanding the term. Wikipedia displays a photo of a griffon under “raptors”, and I believe that they sometimes take live prey, but like lammargeiers (“geyer” is German for “vulture”) and vultures, they are primarily scavengers.

        Somebody with more detailed knowledge than me can chime in. I’d appreciate it.

        And I’ve never felt the need for protection against lone coyotes. I’ve never seen one that didn’t run away at the sight of a human. They’re not stupid; they know how to size up potential prey.

        Black bears are quite another matter. It’s inadvisable in the extreme to go out unarmed where bears might be around!

      • A raptor is indeed a bird of prey but not so much a colloquialism as the term is used extensively in ornithology. In ornithology, the definition of a bird of prey is indeed very narrow, and applied only to birds with excellent eyesight, powerful claws and curved talons and beaks.

        At present, there are only to “orders” that qualify: Falconiformes and Strigiformes. There I gave myself up, I shoot birds, both with guns and with long lenses :).

        • Ah, well thanks for the clarification. Personally I have very little ornithological knowedgle so when I said “colloquialism” I meant not having criteria stricter than “bird that hunts things other than/bigger than insects”, but hey, learning opportunity!

      • The “bear spray” effectiveness study is seriously flawed. The only one that I have seen had really bad sampling bias. They only looked at firearms defenses where a person was actually injured, but counted all uses of “bear spray” on bears.

        They completely ignored successful uses of “warning shots”, yet I have heard a number of anecdotal accounts where firing warning shots appeared to be successful.

        From what I recall of their criteria, if a person shot a charging bear, and the bear dropped without injuring anyone, it was not counted as a successful defense.

        They did nothing to account for the potential bias of people who did not report successful use of a firearm in defense due to the risk of prosecution.

        • Huh, interesting, I’ll have to go back and reread with an eye on the methodology. One study I read (of maybe 3) had pretty sound data interpretation/collection, but the sample size was a bit anemic for my taste (I think it was under 100 for both). But they included only charging bears up to mauling/death, after scaring them away didn’t work.I’ve never needed a warning shot to scare a bear, a stern voice works well. And I’m not saying it was overwhelming, if I remember correctly it was 20-30% more effective to spray, but again with that sample size. That was done by the forest service, but the others I can’t remember if they were any good, only the results.

          I can’t argue with unreported successful gun use, there’s probably a number of successful spray uses but I would wager your right about gun use report rate being much lower. They have been around much longer. I would love to see a really comprehensive study done.

          • I think we need to break this down into Black Bears vs Brown Bears. How politically incorrect!

            If we’re talking about Brown Bears, all the known rules go out the window. Something works, or it doesn’t. Doesn’t mean it will work next time, if there is one.

            We all need RPGs in Brown Bear country. Or FLAMETHROWERS.


    • A real velociraptor was about the size of a turkey. 9mm +p would have been plenty.

      And since we are talking about black bears and not brown ones, a good hot 357 will get the job done just fine. 460 is overkill (of course, that statement applies to everything short of small block v8’s).

      • I was under the impression that non-JURASSIC PARK velociraptors were about 4 1/2 feet tall or so. I’d love to see a wild turkey that big; he’d feed a family of four for a week!

      • A .357 loaded with Federal 180 grain CastCore WFN hard cast bullets will give the necessary penetration while remaining controlable by most shooters. With ordinary 125 JHP self defense ammo, rapid bullet expansion may not penetrate sufficiently on black bear.

    • And from a purely unnecessary pedantic perspective –

      Many paleontologists have come to agree that the sole surviving examples of the dinosaurs are the various species of birds, in that they share many of the same physical characteristics. It is for this reason that the term “velociraptor” has been applied to the dinosaurs that exhibited similar traits to the carnivorous birds we refer to today as “raptors” and that are presumably the ancestors of those birds.

  2. Wow my brother lives in a small town near Orlando. Unfortunately for him he’s left wing anti gun pro Obama & thinks there are way too many people carrying. He’d be bear food. Oh well. Where I live I’m much more concerned about 2legged predators.

    • I live near the Cook County Forest Preserve. There have been quite a few times that I have seen coyotes wander down the middle of the street in my neighborhood. There are also reports of cougars (non-Shannon Watts variety) moving into the area. But since I live in an old mob town, I more concerned about two-legged predators in track suits.

  3. There are lots and lots of coyotes in Rhode Island. In the beach areas, the woods, the cities, the General Assembly . . . .

    • I live on an island where the only access is a bascule bridge and we are having a coyote problem. How they came across the bridge unnoticed is a mystery. The latest issue involved a small dog that was killed and taken away while a lady was walking the dog on a leash!

      • Well, how did coyotes get across the Mississippi? Did they go up to the Minnesota/Canada border, above the source?

        No, more likely they crossed bridges on foot, at a time of day when traffic was non-existent or light. The ones in New England came by a northern route.

        A drawbridge is quite another thing, though. Is the river such as they could swim it? Otherwise, there is another route you should look for.

          • Yep. But the mighty Mississippi, the Mother of Rivers, only infrequently freezes completely over. It must have happened, though.

            Unless they went north of the Mississippi’s source, I think most of them crossed a bridge over the “Mighty Mississip”. The Missouri’s no slouch either.

          • Sweet. “Leave the crossing to us!”

            I did see a photo of a coyote snoozing on a subway train. Probably looking for some peace and quiet.

        • Coyotes are great swimmers. We’re fully infested in SC. These eastern migrants are much bigger than Western yotes and their behavior varies from pack to pack due to significant genetic variance from a lot of wolf and dog influence. DNR claims they’ve not seen a male bigger than 38lbs. I’ve seen females easily bigger than that and a male at least as big as my 50lb GSD mutt.

          • “Coyotes are great swimmers.”

            I guess I should have known this, but didn’t. Thanks.

  4. I live in the county where the heaviest reliably weighed black bear was killed (880 lbs). The town’s ‘mascot’ is the bear (stores are named “Bear Town” or “Bear City” this or that) and we’ve had them roaming the streets in town.

    I doubt 90+% of the folks here have ever given a single thought to what they’d do if attacked.

    • 9mm 147 grain flat front FMJ should get to the brain from more angles than not. And out of a gun your average woman wouldn’t mind carrying to take the trash out, to boot. Unlike a .460 or .500. The ammo also happens to be dirt cheap (as ammo these days go), and balistically identical to common 147 hollowpoints. If you’re a professional bear guide out to pick a fight with the buggers, I’m sure the big hand cannons are “better”, but realistically, you’ll get so sick of carrying them that all the bear have to do, is wait for you to “forget”, and then strike. After conversing with Mr. Murphy.

      Even if you do happen to generally carry a .460, or even .44, you’ll still need the 9mm (or .40) for all those times when you won’t be schlepping your cannon.

      If you’re one of those who don’t mind shooting heavy .357 out of a Scandium snubby, that’s probably even better. But I doubt many bears hit meaningfully harder than that combo kicks, so it’s a bit of a two steps forward, one back…… I’ll stick with the 9 and pray “my” bear doesn’t have the elephant man disease.

      • First rule: Have a gun.

        In the spirit of “never let a good caliber discussion go to waste,” I respectfully disagree with 9mm for ‘bear defense’ for the following reasons.

        (1) A bear’s skull is not a human skull.

        (2) Even with human skulls, head shots are notoriously unreliable with handgun sized rounds.

        (a) I think it was Tim over at that did an article or two chronicling some of the weird things that can happen with head shots. It has to the with both the shape and the structure. Like any other lethality consideration, shot placement is key.

        And, to put this into perspective, yes, I’ve seen first hand what bullets can do to a human head, from .22 LR on up. A handgun CAN cause a mess, but that doesn’t mean it always WILL.

        (b) Jim Cirillo wrote about how “unreliable” his handguns were at ‘forehead’ shots on human subjects; he witnessed a lot of ‘glancing’ ricochets. Interestingly, he went to wad cutters as “duty ammo” for this purpose because the relatively sharp corner on the bullet would ‘dig in’ to the rounded profile of the head.

        (c) In Jared Restin’s first gun fight, he did finally kill the bad guy with his last three shots (of 7 total I think). All three were CONTACT head shots and ONLY ONE of them was a fatal shot. This was with .40 S&W, if I recall correctly.

        (3) I’ve seen bear shot with 45-70 Govt from a carbine that did not kill the bear. He was not an ‘attacking’ bear hopped up on fear and adrenaline.

        (4) There is no hand gun round fired out of a hand gun that will “reliably” be a good defense against an attacking bear, in my opinion. Given a choice, the big bore mags with longer barrels (over 6″) I’d put at a minimum.

        (5) Bullet choice matters a lot. Some here have said hard cast lead bullets make good choice for bear. With a bear, it’s a case of penetration outweighing expansion on the importance scale, and I just don’t think 9mm has it…again, in a ‘reliably’ sense. I’m a big 9mm fan not a hater.

        So, my thought is that if you are in a fight for your life with a bear and at contact range, a 9mm will be better than nothing. Given a choice and with the idea of hopefully not getting to that point, 9mm is still better than nothing but far, far, far from what I’d call a “first choice.”

        • I in no way disagree with bringing a bigger gun to a battle with a bear. But realistically, people don’t seem to want to schlep big guns around much anymore. If your bear gun is an Xframe, or even (as in my case) a .44 mag or .45LC, it probably won’t be permanently carried inside. Meaning, it probably won’t be on you when your kid pukes and you just want to run out to the trash with the dirty paper towels before the house stinks up. A 9mm with flat nosed 147 FMJs very well could be. And also could prove very useful. In a way the most realistic alternative, a .380 may very well not. I do see Buffalo Bore selling hardcast wadcutters for standard pressure .38, even referring Cirillo. Perhaps that’s another alternative for an ‘always with you’ Bear Gun. Advising people to take a snubby to a bearfight just sounds even more reckless than advising taking a 9….

          Another angle; I have always considered bear defense one of the strongest arguments for civilian carry of select fire guns, like the MP5. Or possibly G18. With some training, you can land an absolute hailstorm of hurt on a charging bear in a few seconds with one of those. But again, not really common attire for taking out the trash. Well, at least for trash in the traditional sense….

        • “If your bear gun is an Xframe, or even (as in my case) a .44 mag or .45LC, it probably won’t be permanently carried inside. Meaning, it probably won’t be on you when your kid pukes and you just want to run out to the trash with the dirty paper towels before the house stinks up. A 9mm with flat nosed 147 FMJs very well could be. “

          Wait, what?

          It looks like you are saying EDC is a big magnum, but when knowingly going into a potentially bad situation, you put the big gun down and purposefully grab something smaller and far less likely to be effective?

          I don’t get this at all.

          If you really think you might get attacked by a bear while taking out your garbage, don’t you think it makes a lot better sense to bring the biggest thing you can?

          If 9mm (or whatever) is all you have, that’s a separate scenario. “Have a gun” is better than “no gun.” But seriously…choosing “marginal” over “less marginal” when you have complete control over the choice seems foolhardy.

          Suggested listen:

          • If bears may happen to be a serious threat between you and your trash can, why dick around? Take a 12-gauge loaded with slugs or sabots slung over your shoulder.

            Always rise to the occasion, at the very least.

        • It looks like you are saying EDC is a big magnum, but when knowingly going into a potentially bad situation, you put the big gun down and purposefully grab something smaller and far less likely to be effective?

          I don’t get this at all.

          That’s because that’s not what I’m saying. Rather that the gun you are most likely to bring with you every time you step out the door, is the same gun that’s always in your pocket when you’re inside the house. Everywhere except perhaps in the shower. If you have kids, you probably won’t leave the magnum next to the door for easy grabbings on the way out. Instead, it will be left in the safe; to be brought out whenever you go for a trip in the woods or some higher probability of encountering a bear scenario. But for knocking about house and yard 24/7, I doubt most people are packing a big magnum. For those who are, good for them, but for the rest of us, even a 9 is lots better than nothing, and a much bigger step over the .380 against bears than against people.

  5. So now we’re getting 3 pop up ads every time I come to this page? Why? Has anyone ever said,”HEY, WOW, A POP UP AD! I can’t wait to see what incredible PURCHASING OPPORTUNITIES AWAIT ME!!! Please Farago, pretty please find a way to increase the amount of pop up ads, or as I like to call them, pop up opportunities of a lifetime!!!

      • I’ve used Firefox for a decade or so, and I don’t get pop-ups at TTAG. I probably installed something, but I don’t remember it.

      • The same extension is available for Chrome. Ditch IE or Safari if you haven’t yet, install Adblock in one of the two major browsers that don’t completely suck, and browse in blissful peace.

        • I agree. IE is by far the most crippled browser of all (in terms of a lack of capabilities), and Safari is not far behind. I think Chrome is far better than either, but I don’t like the feel of it.

          Foxfire seems just about perfect to me.

      • I would like Chrome if it wasn’t just another goddam Google product that they force on me every time I try to load Adobe.

    • Drop the hysteria. I don’t have this problem. Use Foxfire, and if that doesn’t work, add pop-up add-ons.

    • Hey, I just noticed that my ancient red plastic “shoot off” muzzle cover for my AR makes it look very Airsoft! I know they sell, and I don’t think very much should be illegal, but don’cha think a blaster from “Men in Black” would make a more sensible profile for a kid’s toy? Parents are the ones who buy them, why?!

  6. Lived in coyote country (and presumably also bear country) most of my life, toddled around in the sagebrush throughout my childhood, and never had a negative encounter with a wild animal. Had my share of contretemps with ostensibly domesticated nasties, but none with the native fauna.

    Dunno about bears, but being accompanied by a dog that could have eaten coyotes for breakfast (and may have, for all I know) might have been a deterrent.

    But I haven’t had one of those for many years now, so I’ve been relying on my amazing girth to overawe the wild beasts. It’s worked perfectly so far. But if some toothy creature decides I look like a toothsome feast, then yes, I do carry whenever allowed by law.

    As for those worries about raptorial birds, I have only one piece of advice: let them do their thing and look at little Fluffy’s demise as an opportunity to scale up to a legitimate canine.

    • I recall hearing coyotes come into the area nearly every night (when the window was open enough for me to hear them). Usually around 3:30 am, in large packs. To me, it sounded as if they were taunting domesticated dogs: “You FOOLS! WE’RE FREE! FREE!! And you dogs are SLAVES!”

      The dogs never did take it well; they’re conditioned to think they’re “free”. The parallel with humans is obvious. None so enslaved as they who falsely believe they are free.

      • As a kid, I had terrible recurring nightmares about coyotes. And tarantulas. Of the two, I’d much rather meet a coyote.

        I grew out of the nightmares and into a healthy respect for those wily little predators. Now I live too far inside town to hear them, but when I lived on the edge of town a while back, I could hear the coyotes yipping all night long out in the wheat fields. It was a beautiful sound.

        Even if they were taunting me. 🙂

        • Yeah, neither one has particularly bothered me. Coyotes generally avoid humans, and every tarantula I’ve seen has been gentle and tolerant, unless you messed with them.

          I even had one (someone’s pet) crawl all over me, and didn’t find it upsetting in the least. You should not assume that I’m not afraid of spiders in general, though. Wolf Spiders get my heart pumping fast, because they’re aggressive, and the same is true for scorpions and centipedes. The latter send me into a fit of primeval panic.

        • Fun wolf spider story: Saw one, a big one, ‘belly up to the bar’ where the bar was a very large puddle of blood. It was surreal and put some things in “life” into perspective.

          • Another fun Wolf Spider story.

            In college, with a group of Merry Tripsters. Decided to pile into cars and drive to the reservoir; I don’t remember why. There may have been a reason, but I doubt it.

            A hill sloped up steeply about 15 feet on all sides of the reservoir.

            We sat, “grooving” 😀 on one slope for a few minutes. As our eyes adjusted to the light, we gradually became aware that this slope was LITERALLY CRAWLING WITH WOLF SPIDERS!!

            I’m going to have a daynightmare!!!

        • My kids caught two little wolf spiders in our basement shortly after we moved in. In the last couple of years, the more “interesting” fauna in the yard have been the black bear cub that showed up three nights in a row (we never saw mom, but got a video of junior), coyotes, great horned owls, and bats (Myotis evotis, I think). Plus, of course, the near-daily mule deer.

      • Coyotes can make multiple noises at the same time. If I were younger I’d remember the name for this ability. Often, what you think is a Russian-winter-sized canine horde intent on eating everyone who’s aboard the train is really just a mated pair and maybe a pup or two.
        I enjoy coyotes, myself. They’re pretty intelligent, crafty, and situationally aware — except when they’re not.

        • In American Indian culture, the coyote is typically viewed as Trickster. I can certainly see that.

          Bob Dylan reminds me of a coyote.

  7. Daughter came out of the army with PTSD. For a service dog she got a coyote dog mix. Smart, loyal, adaptable, playful, just an incredible animal. I bet it could do algebra if it could hold a pencil. Wolves retreat from people, coyotes study human behavior and work around us. Even been found in New York City! (get a rope).

    • Coyote dens in Central Park! I believe it. There are good habitats at the north end of Manhattan, too, north of Columbia U. Caves galore. Some woodland, too. I’ve seen it.

  8. Last winter, a coyote stalked me during a pre-dawn trail run. Even though I suspected it was more curious than anything, it got closer than I felt comfortable with, so I pulled the 9mm handgun I usually carry when running. That’s the only time I’ve drawn my weapon.

    I was on an out-and-back trail at the time, but the coyote didn’t want to yield the trail on my way back, so I exited the open-space area and ran a couple of miles out of my way on a paved road to get back to my car. I looked back several times but never saw the coyote after that.

    I quickly showered, ate breakfast, and jumped in my car to drive to work. I had to drive right by the same park where I had run that morning. As I drove by the entrance where I parked for my run a little earlier, I saw a dead coyote right on the side of the road that had apparently been hit by a car. I don’t know for sure that it was the same one, but I suspect it followed me the whole way back to my car and then got hit.

    Although coyote attacks on humans are apparently rare, according to the Denver Post, there have been three coyote attacks on humans in that general area since then.

    • Thanks. I love coyote stories. They’re totemic animals. Native Americans give them a lot of respect.

        • Me too! So I am not alone. Road Runners don’t even look like they’re worthy of cooking and preparation.

      • The funny thing about Coyote is …
        in NW American (Chinook) lore, Coyote has all of the power in the universe, basically, but with a matching dose of foolhardiness, ego, and capriciousness to match. This interpretation of Cyote may be the most true, based on what I’ve seen of them.

        For more info, search “Kathlamet Texts” on Google. Coyote-inspired hilarity will ensue, especially if you can find the story about Coyote borrowing Badger’s ass. It’s a riot, even in modern times.

  9. I live in an area shared with dangerous four-legged predators: Houston. Whether it’s someone’s vicious pet on the loose in the neighborhood, or packs of strays roaming the cityscape, they’re always dangerous and occasionally deadly. This year alone, including as recently as yesterday, we’ve had multiple mauling incidents; among them several fatalities. So it’s not just rural or remote areas where caution is advised. Stay safe out there, my friends, and carry on.

  10. So my wife pointed this out to me. It’s enough to give you nightmares.

    You know how most animals get kind of ridiculous when you shave all their hair off? Take a look at what happens when you shave a bear.

  11. “She was concerned because two of her children, 10 and 11, had just ridden to a neighbor’s home on their bikes, so she went to check on them.”

    And what was her game plan here? Sounds to me like she went looking for a bear and found one.

  12. If there were multiple bears in her garage, why on god’s green earth did she go out in the first place?! One bear is more than enough for me. Let alone mulitple!

    • Agreed. Last summer, when the little black bear cub was on my driveway 3 nights running, I stayed in the garage and watched it through the windows. That was as close as I wanted to come.
      (First night = why the hell is my garbage strewn all over the place? Second night = hmm, maybe a bear did it both nights? Third night = garbage inside garage, camera and light strategically mounted.)

    • Because a bunch of pretty dumb control-minded non-real-world-living folks have repeated often that animals, both two legged and four, are just peaceful co-beings that really just want to get along.

      Some folks have believed it.

      • 1) OPEN DOOR TO GARAGE (if it’s attached)

        • Haha, yeah.

          Saw a friend of my Dad’s swat a black bear on the butt with a switch to get it to run off into the woods.

          I would not recommend that as “standard practice,” though. 😉

          Noise bugs them a lot times. But, in recent years, they have been having problems in the Smokies with them getting more aggressive and less prone to run off.

          • ” But, in recent years, they have been having problems in the Smokies with them getting more aggressive and less prone to run off.”

            More hikers. Diminishing habitat. This should not be hard to figure out. It will get worse, and it’s not the fault of the bears.

            They’re just not compatible with civilization, that’s all. And who would want bears that were? The parallel with American Indians is striking….

            But seen from a different angle, as the late Russell Means said,
            “Americans are the new Indians”.

        • “More hikers. Diminishing habitat.”


          “This should not be hard to figure out.”

          It’s not.

          “it’s not the fault of the bears.”

          Very true.

  13. From the Wikipedia article: “In the absence of the harassment of coyotes practiced by rural people, urban coyotes are losing their fear of humans, which is further worsened by people intentionally or unintentionally feeding coyotes. In such situations, some coyotes have begun to act aggressively toward humans, chasing joggers and bicyclists, confronting people walking their dogs, and stalking small children.”

    Yeah, that’s us rural people – out there harassing the poor little coyotes. With a .22-250, after we call them into range. The only places in Idaho where you will see coyotes acting aggressively toward humans would be the few lib enclaves – Boise’s North End and the Sun Valley area. Whenever I see a coyote around my town, they are moving very quickly into the sagebrush away form me.

    • I read “harassment” as “get away from my chickens!” (as that’s the normal “harassment” around here).

      (ETA: and “get away from my chickens” is often spoken via a .22 or .223.)

    • Yup. They can sense danger, and they don’t feel it in the urban or semi-urban enclaves.

    • Aggressive playing. Probably two nearly-grown male siblings. Is that a bowl of water?

      I’m not overly afraid of black bears; I’ve seen them up close. But if I had my druthers, I want them to be somewhere else. I don’t know if shooting one of them would help, but I’d probably try. If I had a good retreat route.

      • Yes, they were just playing. Those 2 wrestled for several minutes. That’s a bowl of water for the birds.

  14. YOU PEOPLE ARE ALL PARANOID. You think there are bears lurking behind every tree and bush waiting to attack you.

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