Management programs for urban coyotes incorporate public education and untangling facts from myths. People should become aware of coyote signs and understand the differences between true threats and coexistence. It is important to stress that our relationship with coyotes is directly affected by our behavior – coyotes react to us, and we can influence their behavior with the cues we send to them.
Although naturally curious, coyotes are usually timid animals that run away if challenged. Coyotes can be a risk to people once they become comfortable around humans, usually as a result of feeding or indifference. When this occurs, coyotes lose their natural fear and learn to see humans, their yards and their pets as food sources and safe havens. You must aggressively discourage coyotes from feeling comfortable around you and your family by never intentionally feeding coyotes and eliminating attractants (food sources, including pet food) from your yard. The following tips will give you some ideas on how to discourage the inadvertent feeding and attraction of coyotes into our neighborhoods:
• Do not leave small children or pets alone outside in areas where coyotes have been seen. Pets most likely to be endangered by coyotes are typically off-leash or under 25 pounds. Coyotes have taken cats and small dogs in the vicinity of their owners.
• Never feed coyotes intentionally or unintentionally. Be aware of possible sources of food in your yard. Coyotes are scavengers and on a slow day, a dish of dog or cat food really hits the spot and keeps them coming back for more.
• Pick up after your pet. Dog feces can attract coyotes into your yard.
• Be careful of birdfeeders. Large amounts and prolonged use of wild bird seed will attract not only the wild birds but the rabbits, squirrels, mice and gophers. These little creatures will in turn attract the coyotes and other predatory animals. If you do feed the wild birds, put out only small amounts of seed at a time.
• Wherever possible, eliminate outdoor sources of water.
• Make your trash cans inaccessible. Keep trash can lids securely fastened or keep trash cans in your garage until trash day. Ammonia or pepper in the trash can also discourage the scavenging coyote.
• Do not leave barbeque grills outside and uncovered. Food smells from the grill will attract coyotes. All grills should be covered and put away as soon after use as possible.
• Battery operated flashing lights, tape recorded human noises and ammonia-soaked rags strategically placed may deter coyotes from entering your property.
• Actively discourage coyotes by making loud noises and throwing rocks to make them leave.
• Coyotes rarely climb anything higher than a six (6) foot fence. Augment your existing fencing with extenders angled outwardly, hot wire, or cement blocks and large rocks buried outside the fence line to prevent animals from digging into your yard.
• Coyotes like areas where they can hide, yet still be near food. You can help deter coyotes by thinning brushy areas in your yard and closing off crawl spaces. Coyotes may use areas under outbuildings for resting or raising young.
• If you see a coyote when you are walking your dog, let the coyote know you are there. Gather your dog in your arms or keep it as close to you as possible. If the coyote approaches you, yell at the coyote in a loud voice and throw rocks or sticks.
• Report aggressive, fearless coyotes immediately. When a coyote fails to exhibit fear of humans or acts aggressively by barking or growling in the yard or playground, the animal should be immediately reported to the Parker Police Department at 303.841.9800.
• Report coyotes attacks immediately. If you witness a coyote attack on a domestic pet or person, the attack should be immediately reported to the Parker Police Department at 303.841.9800. This helps us better track the issue and provide an appropriate response to the situation.
• Tell your neighbors about the hazards posed by coyotes and ask them to take the measures recommended above.
For more information on living with wildlife, go to the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Web site at http://wildlife.state.co.us. To report a coyote attack in Parker, call the Parker Police Department at 303.841.9800.