PROVINCETOWN, Mass. — Marcy Sterlis is an assistant principal in New York City trying to enjoy her summer, so she came to spend time on the Cape. Thursday morning, she went for a hike, solo, on Race Point beach at low tide.
It was a little before noon when she got some very unexpected company. She thought she might get close to some crabs or sea turtles, but not a coyote.
“I sat down to put my sneakers back on and as I was getting up, I look over and this coyote was four or five feet from me,” Sterlis said. “It was a little too curious because it wasn’t responding to my screams to get away from me or shaking at the stick.”
The relentless coyote kept coming at or at the least circling for an agonizing 10 minutes.
“It was like up to a foot at some point like it was, and it just kept coming at me, and I could not get it,” Sterlis said. “I was screaming at it. The only thing that did work was when I lunged. My voice is still really hoarse from screaming so much this morning.”
With her eyes never leaving the coyote and concern there could be more around, she backpedaled toward the water hoping it would go away, all while trying to get a good cell phone signal.
“Right at the time that I went to grab my cell phone to call 911 because everything else wasn’t working, my boyfriend called,” Sterlis said. “I was like, ‘I need you to look up online what to do about a coyote,’ and he was like, okay, but I’m on my way to work.’”
“As I took my binoculars out, I said that’s not a dog,” said Andrew DeCarton of R.I. who shot the video.
He had the same vantage point several boaters had, but they all passed by Sterlis thinking that stick was a fishing pole and the coyote was her dog who came along fishing with her.
Thankfully, there were actual fishermen nearby. DeCarton and boat captain William Kelley heard her screams for help.
“‘Stay away from me. Get away from me. Help,’” Kelley recounted Sterlis yelling. “I pulled up close enough, started banging my ore on the side of the boat. That’s when he started to run away. I told Andrew, ‘we need to get her on the boat.’”
They took her back to her car, finally safe and sound from the menacing animal.
“The off-road vehicle office was open, and I went in there and told the guy what happened, and I said, ‘Let me show you the video,’ and it was the first time I watched it since it happened,” Sterlis said. “I just broke down in tears because I was so scared.”
Thankfully, the coyote never touched her. If you’re wondering where she found that large stick on the beach, turns out she said she is familiar with the coyotes on the Cape because she sees their footprints everywhere, and so starting last year she started carrying a stick with her. This time it paid off.
When asked if she is ever going back to that area, without hesitation she said, “Of course, because I love the National Seashore. In fact, after I left Race Point today, I ended up going over to the Head of the Meadow Beach to chill out and decompress.”
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