You may think that coyotes only exist in rural areas, but you would be very wrong.
Coyotes are thriving and multiplying in both urban and suburban areas. Zoologist Roland Kays tells National Geographic:
“It’s the reclamation of urban America by predators. The prey moved in first, and predators started to move in behind them.”
Humans aren’t the target of these wild canines, but our pups certainly could be.
Coyotes are largely interested in rodents and other small game, but they’ll still enter our backyards to forage for food. These canines tend to prowl at night, but they aren’t strictly nocturnal. Suburban coyotes will happily trot down our sidewalks in the middle of the day.
These two things present a direct danger to our dogs. Although they are canine cousins, coyotes will see our dogs as either food or foe.
The Urban Coyote Project created an excellent list of what to do if you encounter a coyote and how to prevent the situation all together.
1. Avoid retractable leashes.
They make it difficult to pull your dog back to you quickly.
2. Avoid areas where you know coyotes have been spotted.
This is vital during puppy season, April thru August, as this is when coyotes will be extra defensive.
3. Avoid areas with thick brush.
Stay on trails and clear paths. This will help you spot a coyote from a distance, giving you time to get away.
4. Don’t stray too far away from home at sunrise and sunset.
Twilight is a popular time for coyote outings. If there have been known sightings in your neighborhood it is best to avoid dog walks during these times.
5. Pick up small dogs if you encounter a coyote.
Coyotes can be afraid of humans. However, your mini-BFF looks delicious. They’re likely to leave you alone if you pick up your tiny pup.
6. Stand up straight and be assertive to scare the coyote.
Again, these canines don’t typically challenge humans. They’ll back off faster if you look more intimidating. Most importantly, do not turn your back or run. Walk away slowly and backwards.
7. Haze the coyote to drive it away.
The Urban Coyote Project acknowledges that this might seem cruel at first, but by scaring the animal away you are actually protecting it from being hurt.
Hazing includes screaming at the animal, opening an umbrella, flashing a flashlight, tossing rocks and branches near the coyote (do not try to hit or hurt the coyote!) and any other action that might ward off the predator.
The Urban Coyote Project gives three other great tips for preventing these interactions:
1. Do not leave pet food outside.
2. Do not leave your pet outside unsupervised, especially at night.
3. Report any sightings and pay attention to the ones that others have reported.
Stay safe pawrents!
Featured image via NPR. And yes, it’s real, not photoshopped.