Letter: Keeping Coyotes Away

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Coyote

Yesterday during breakfast, a coyote came within six feet of my back door with eyes on two little dogs behind a barking Labrador Retriever. This is the first time in 25 years on Point Dume that a coyote has been so fearless. I wanted to share some tips on creating “unfriendly” coyote neighborhoods.

Q: Why are they in my neighborhood?

Because of the recent fire and ongoing drought, many wild animals have lost their habitat and are looking for new sources of food and water.

Q: What can I do to make my home and neighborhood undesirable to coyotes?

When coyotes find food sources in residential areas, they may lose their fear of humans and eventually test both people and pets as prey. Do not feed coyotes either intentionally or by accident as this causes them to quickly lose their fear of people and become aggressive. Anyone who feeds coyotes is putting the entire neighborhood’s pets and children at risk of coyote attack and serious injury.

-If you feed pets outdoors, food dishes should be promptly emptied and removed after pets have eaten.

-Store pet food indoors or in sealed heavy-duty containers. 

-Use containers that have tight-fitting lids to prevent raccoons, dogs or coyotes from having access to household garbage. 

-Make sure ripe fruits are picked from the garden.

-Keep grills and barbecues clean. Even the smallest food scraps may attract coyotes.

-Do not allow spillage to collect under bird feeders. 

Q: How do I keep my family pets safe?

Watch your pets: keep small pets such as cats, rabbits and small dogs indoors, and if outdoors, keep them within enclosed kennels. Large dogs should be brought inside after dark. Never allow cats or small dogs to run free at any time, as they are easy prey. Remember invisible fencing is ineffective on coyotes. 

Q: What happens if I encounter a coyote?

If you see or are approached by a coyote, you should exhibit caution. Do not run away. Instead, yell, wave your arms and/or throw an object at the animal. It is a good idea to carry a walking stick.

Laure Stern