Have coyotes moved into your neighborhood recently? Many urban and suburban residents are seeing coyotes enter their neighborhoods due to habitat destruction, habituation to human contact, and the easy availability of prey. Now, it might be fun and exciting the first time you see a gray-and-russet coyote face peering at you from your backyard, but what happens when it starts to visit daily? What if you want to let a dog out? Coyote attacks on humans and pets are on the rise. If coyotes have been spotted in your neighborhood, you’ll need to be vigilant and cautious in order to keep your dog(s) safe.
Coyotes Aren’t Playmates… and Don’t Let Dogs Chase Them, Either!
The first and most important rule for keeping your dog safe when coyotes are nearby is this: Never, ever allow your dog to have contact with coyotes. Leash your dog on all walks, especially if coyotes live in the area. Don’t allow dogs to chase, bark at, or attempt to play with coyotes under any circumstances. You may think your dog is capable of defeating a coyote if a fight occurred, but they’re stronger than they look, and they travel in packs.
The only exception to this rule is if you have a trained, working livestock guardian dog, like a Great Pyrenees or an Anatolian Shepherd. However, even if this is the case, you should still be prepared for a rush trip to the vet if you allow your dog to tangle with coyotes.
Don’t Encourage Coyotes to Move In
To keep coyotes away from your property, cover up or remove any attractive denning sites. Avoid allowing rodents to set up camp in your yard or home– where there is prey, there are predators. Don’t leave pet food out. Do not keep an outdoor cat. Encourage your neighbors to keep their cats inside as well.
If you do see a coyote on your property, you can yell, throw rocks, and otherwise frighten and harass it until it leaves. I suggest you do exactly that. However, in most areas, if the coyote is not on your property, harassing it is a criminal offense. Instead, call the Department of Wildlife if a coyote approaches you in an urban or suburban area. Alternately, call the nearest wildlife rescue and ask for their recommendations.
I do not suggest killing coyotes, even if it’s legal. The remaining coyotes will simply have larger litters to compensate for the loss of adult individuals. It’s far better to intimidate the existing adults into regaining a healthy fear of humans!
If You’re Attacked
Coyotes rarely attack humans or dogs accompanied by humans, but it does happen. If you or your pet is attacked, fight back! Do not run away or play dead under any circumstances– this will encourage the coyote to continue to attack or chase you. If you are attacked by a coyote, you must always go to the hospital and also report the bite to the Department of Wildlife. Even if you think you were not bitten or scratched, a medical professional should examine you to be sure. The same goes for your dog– if a dog is attacked by a coyote, even if no visible marks exist, he needs to see a veterinarian immediately.