Coyotes are a common wildlife species throughout North America. The coyote (Canis latrans) is a member of the dog family and has adapted well our urban landscapes and appears to be equally comfortable living in city suburbs as they do out in the wilderness.
As coyotes are becoming an increasingly common urban predator, attacks on dogs are becoming more prevalent.
Knowing what to do to help protect your dog from coyotes is increasingly important, so here are a few helpful tips.
Coyotes have a home range territory of about 20 square kilometers (8 square miles) and can be spotted anytime of the day, but are most active at night when they go in search for food.
Coyotes prey on deer and livestock but will also scavenge on dead animals and eat insects, rodents, rabbits and small birds.
In urban areas, coyotes will take advantage of unsecured garbage or pet food if these attractants are left outside. They are also known to kill or injure pets, especially small dogs or cats when they enter populated areas. It is the adaptable quality of these predators that often leads to conflict with humans.
Coyotes breed annually during winter months, between January and March and are more active during these months, as they scour for food in preparation for their litter.
Mated pairs can remain together for up to 12 years, and on average, six pups are born in April or May. Litter size depends on population density and available food sources during the breeding season.
Prevent Coyotes from Getting Comfortable in Your Neighborhood
Wild coyotes are naturally curious, however they are timid and will usually run away if challenged. Coyotes start posing a risk to people when they lose their timidness and become comfortable around humans which is usually a result of direct or indirect feeding by humans.
A few precautions and good, old-fashioned common sense will help minimize conflicts and encounters with coyotes in your area.
People in residential neighborhoods need to work together to ensure that coyotes don’t start to feel comfortable living in their neighborhood.
Coyotes that are rewarded through direct or indirect feeding will eventually loose their fear of humans and begin to see humans, their yards and their pets as food sources.
A coyote that is comfortable in one person’s yard is going to feel comfortable in everyone’s yard. So become proactive in your community by helping to educate neighbors and residents about coyotes. Here are some tips:
- Do not feed coyotes or any other wildlife, especially near human habitation.
- Coyotes can be discouraged from hanging around homes by scaring them off each time they are seen and by removing attractants.
- Keep all garbage in plastic or metal containers with lids tightly secured.
- Bring pet food inside a secure location every night or, better yet, feed your pet indoors.
- If you have an outdoor compost be sure the bin is securely built and has a lockable lid. Remove any meat, meat-by-products, fish and cooked fruit and vegetables from compost. Adding lime will help reduce odor and aid the composting process.
- If you have fruit trees be sure to pick the fruit as it ripens and do not leave fruit to rot on the ground.
- Clean up after your dog. Coyotes are attracted to dog feces.
- Consider installing a roll-bar (or coyote rollers) around your fence, if you have one. Coyotes are excellent jumpers and can clear a 6-7 foot fence!
- If a coyote becomes a pest, report it to your local animal control. Coyotes can also be removed by a homeowner in defence of private property or to protect personal safety on land that they own. But DO NOT leave poison out under any circumstance. You can harm other wild animals and domestic animals in your neighborhood.
- Coyotes can be humanely trapped, so you consider hiring a licensed trapper if the animal becomes a real nuisance. But in the majority of circumstances it’s best to alert authorities who can deal with the situation.
Keeping Watch Over Your Dog
Coyotes pose a lesser risk to large dogs, unless there is a pack of coyotes involved. Usually small dogs are targeted, so they should be monitored more closely if there are coyotes in the area. However, as mentioned, some coyotes work in packs and can be a threat to any size dog.
- Keep dogs inside at night and under close supervision while they are outside during the day.
- Don’t let your dog out into a backyard unattended.
- If you own a small dog keep the dog on a short leash. Avoid extension leashes. That way if there is any trouble, or you spot a coyote, you can quickly pick the dog up for protection.
- Supervise the dog when it is off-leash.
- Keep the dog in front or beside you while walking, not behind you.
- Avoid walking by abandoned or neglected properties and bushy areas, especially at dusk and dawn.
- Consider carrying flashlight, bear spray or an air horn on walks to scare the animal off.
If You Encounter a Coyote
Most coyotes will keep to themselves. But on occasion a coyote may demonstrate no fear of humans. However, keep in mind it is not normal for coyotes to attack or pursue humans, especially adults. If it does display such aggression, it is most likely sick.
- If you spot a coyote stop, remain calm and assess your situation.
- Never approach or crowd a coyote — give it an escape route.
- If the coyote seems unaware of you, move away quietly when it is not looking in your direction.
- If the coyote is aware of you, let it know you are human: shout at it, wave your arms above your head to make yourself appear more threatening, throw stones or other objects at it.
- If you have a small child or dog, pick them up.
- If a coyote approaches you make yourself look as large as possible. (So if sitting, stand for example.)
- Wave your arms and throw objects at the coyote. Use a deterrent. Deterrents could include: rocks, sticks, banging pots and pans, tin cans filled will rocks.
- Shout at the coyote in a loud aggressive voice.
- If the coyote continues to approach do not turn away or run — this may encourage the coyote to chase you. Continue to exaggerate the above gestures and slowly move to safety or move towards buildings or human activity.
- If the coyote attacks you — Fight Back!
- If you see a coyote acting aggressively or a pet gets injured or killed by a coyote be sure to report it to local authorities.
If You Suspect a Coyote is Sick
They are also susceptible to sarcoptic mange, These diseases and parasites can be transferred to dogs and cats coming into contact with an area where an infected coyote may have lived or sought shelter (e.g. a farm’s straw bedding, hay bales, etc.).
Other common parasites which can affect humans or pets include heartworm, hookworm, and tapeworms.
Therefore, if you find a sick or dead coyote or its scat (droppings), never pick it up! Report any sick or dead coyote to your local animal authority.
Also, be sure that your dog has all its current vaccinations, to protect your pet from potentially picking up an illness from a wild animal.
We hope these tips help keep your dog safe from any possible coyote encounter.