A teenager used a crutch to drive off a coyote that cornered her outside her house one morning last week.

"She gave the coyote a good socking and escaped from being bitten," said Mayor Mary C. Kabasakalian, discussing the problem of coyotes in the community.

Coyotes running wild also were a serious problem in North Tonawanda several years ago, Police Chief Carl W. Stiles said.

The matter became so serious then that the Common Council hired private trappers to help eradicate the coyotes. But the traps presented their own problems, Kabasakalian said.

"Coyotes are very foxy, and they don't go into traps very readily," she said. "Besides, the traps can be a danger to children playing in the area."

The mayor has a list of nuisance-control officers who could be called into action, but she said she first will ask the state Department of Environmental Conservation for recommendations.

Melissa Harms, 18, of Prospect Avenue, had a close encounter with a hungry coyote last week.

Harms, who uses crutches because of a leg injury, said she heard one of her cats screeching outside the house at about 4:30 a.m. She grabbed her crutches and went outside to investigate. She said she saw the cat cringing under a car in the driveway, and then she saw why -- it was being terrorized by a snarling coyote. Harms shouted at the coyote to frighten it away, but the animal turned and started toward her. That is when she used one of her crutches to defend herself.

"She whacked him a couple of times, and he ran away," her mother, Debbie Harms, recalled.

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