The Colorado Division of Wildlife is asking people to take precautions when living or recreating in coyote country. From coyote attacks on pets to aggressive coyotes approaching people, the Division is receiving increasing calls about coyote activity.
“Spring is denning season for coyotes and with new pups in the dens, coyotes will behave more aggressively,” explained John Broderick, Terrestrial Program Manager for the Division of Wildlife. “When you put defensive coyotes trying to feed their young into the mix with lots of people heading outdoors to enjoy the warming weather, you get the right mix for potential problems.”
The DOW wants to caution people about encounters with coyotes. These are not pets. They are wild animals that are predators, and they should be treated with caution and respect.
The coyote (Canis latrans) is a member of the dog family. It resembles a small German shepherd with the exception of the long snout and bushy, black-tipped tail. Coyotes are extremely adaptable and resourceful, and can survive on whatever food is available. They prey on rabbits, mice, birds and other small animals, as well as young deer and sheep. In urban areas, coyotes have attacked people’s small pets – cats and dogs included – particularly when pets are allowed to roam free or left out in yards overnight. A typical coyote weighs about 30 lbs.
Coyote home ranges can include urban areas such as the downtown Denver corridor. From feeding on pets in the urban environment to more natural prey in canyon, sage and forest lands, coyotes are common around the state.
Many urban coyote conflicts often center on feeding issues. When people feed wildlife, it doesn’t take long to teach a wild animal to associate people with food, but it’s very difficult to convince a habituated coyote to return to wild ways. Coyotes that appear friendly may be mimicking behavior that has been rewarded with food in the past: Remember that all wildlife is unpredictable. Do not get close or encourage interaction with wild animals. When it becomes apparent that no food is forthcoming, the coyote’s behavior can change abruptly.
People with pets need to keep them on a leash when walking them. While at home, pets should not be allowed to roam freely. Even pets in enclosed yards run the risk of predation, especially at night. People should also feed their pets inside in an effort to keep pet food from attracting coyotes and other wildlife.
Encounters with aggressive coyotes should be reported to the nearest Colorado Division of Wildlife office.
For more information, get a copy of “Living with Wildlife in Coyote Country” at your local Division of Wildlife office or on the web at http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/Mammals/CoyoteCountry.htm
An educational video entitled “Being Coyote Wise” is also available for viewing on the Division of Wildlife website: http://wildlife.state.co.us/NewsMedia/Videos/BeingCoyoteWisevideo.htm
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TIPS TO REMEMBER:
Discouraging Coyotes Near Homes
- Frighten coyotes with loud noises; use unnatural odors (such as ammonia) to clean trash cans.
- Remove food attractants such as pet food, table scraps on compost piles, fallen fruit, and spilled seed beneath birdfeeders.
- Remove vegetation and brush that provides cover for prey and hiding cover for coyotes; trim lower limbs of shrubs and conifer trees.
Use yard lights with motion detectors, appearance of the sudden light may frighten coyotes away.
Protecting Pets and Children
- Keep pets in fenced areas or kennels; remember split rail fences and invisible fences will not keep your pet safe from predators. Pet kennels and runs should have a fully-enclosed roof.
- Provide human supervision while outdoors, even in your own backyard.
- Do not allow pets to run loose in areas where there is coyote activity. Keep pets on leash or leave the area when you see a coyote. Most urban areas have leash laws requiring dogs to be under control. Coyotes and foxes have been known to be responsible for many cat disappearances in residential neighborhoods.
- Although rare, coyotes have been known to injure people. Most of these incidents involved people feeding coyotes. Teach your family not to approach wildlife and never feed wildlife.
Treat the presence of a coyote as an unfamiliar and potentially threatening dog.
- Coyotes are usually wary of humans and will avoid people whenever possible. Aggressive behavior toward people is not normal and is often a result of habituation due to feeding by humans.
- Never feed or attempt to “tame” a coyote.
- Do not turn your back or run from a coyote.
- If approached or followed by a coyote, make loud noises, yell and make yourself look big.
- If the coyote approaches to an uncomfortably close distance, throw rocks or other objects at the coyote.
- Adults should keep themselves between the coyote and small children.
For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.