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Coyote enters Woodland Hills home through dog door

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 16, 2023 - A coyote makes it way on vacant land recently purchased by the Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory of North America in El Sereno on February 16, 2023. In Sept. 2022, the Anahuacalmecac International University Preparatory of North America, a K-12 Indigenous charter school based in El Sereno, purchased 12 acres of land that it plans give back to the Gabrielino Shoshone Nation of Southern California Tribal Council as part of a land-back project. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
A coyote makes its way on vacant land in El Sereno in February. Another coyote entered a Woodland Hills home early Friday, through a dog door, and left after an encounter with the resident cat and, later, the homeowner. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

A Woodland Hills pet owner got more than she bargained for early Friday morning when a coyote breezed through the dog door and unnerved her cat.

Around 4 a.m. Friday, homeowner Mia Shoshan's brother was awakened by the sound of the dog door opening, although the family's two small dogs were with them, she told KTLA.

A video camera in the living room captured a coyote walking into the living room and encountering Shoshan's 14-year-old cat, who became agitated and began pouncing among the dining chairs.

“Our cat, Lily, started meowing and screaming," Shoshan told KTLA. "She was terrified and calling for us to help.”

The coyote appeared apprehensive, taking several steps back, after running into the cat. Eventually, Shoshan's brother came into the living room, and the coyote bolted outside.

The intrusion is the latest frightening episode involving coyotes and Woodland Hills residents.

In December, a 2-year-old was attacked by a coyote in the frontyard of her family's Woodland Hills home. A home security video captured the coyote knocking the toddler down and apparently trying to drag her away while her father was busy unloading the family’s SUV.

That coyote was later captured and euthanized by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The department estimates that there are 250,000 to 750,000 coyotes statewide, though it's unclear how many might be roaming in Los Angeles County.

Violent encounters between coyotes and humans are extremely rare, according to wildlife experts. Interactions with coyotes, however, are on the rise as housing and development continue to encroach on the animals' natural habitat.

At least 69 people were bitten by coyotes in Los Angeles County between 2012 and 2022, according to the county Department of Public Health. About half of those occurred in communities east of downtown Los Angeles.

Most coyote attacks are related to food or when the animal draws near pets or livestock, according to the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. For this reason, wildlife officials advise residents to refrain from feeding coyotes and to secure trash canisters near their home.

In the event that someone encounters a coyote, experts encourage them to try to keep a safe distance. They can also make noise, such as loudly clapping their hands or yelling, to scare off the animal.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.