Today communities provide many unique opportunities for residents in a variety of different ways. One of these ways is that it brings you closer to the wildlife that lives around your homes. This can be a wonderful experience for both parents and children to observe animals in their native habitat, but it also provides some challenges.
Personally growing up I was and still am fascinated with animals, bugs and anything else that was wild. Growing up in New York though mainly meant watching rats, mice and the occasional raccoon or opossum. In California it means a very different thing, there are deer, eagles, hawks, owls and coyotes in addition to opossums, raccoons and skunks.
While many of these animals are rarely seen because of their nocturnal nature, some can be seen during the early morning or shortly before dark. While they are beautiful and offer a taste of a world we seldom see it can quickly become a serious problem as is the case with coyotes (Canis latrans).
The thought of a coyote conjures images of this crafty animal using a multitude of items to catch himself a roadrunner (which he never did). This is not far though from the real life version of the coyote. They are fast learners and adapt well to their surroundings even when drastic changes have taken place. They can be persistent and even crafty and cunning to get what they need and are after food.
These wild animals are members of the canine family, but are far different than our domesticated best friends. While they look cute and friendly they are wild and that is a most important characteristic to remember. Being wild they depend on their ability to get food to survive; this propagates survival of the fittest type qualities and is actually healthier for species.
Coyotes are not only hunters but scavengers and will just as easy feed out of a garbage can, take scraps or hunt to feed. They like all wild animals have a natural fear of man, this though can quickly diminish and sometimes disappear if they begin to equate you with a free meal. When this happens they begin to depend on man for their food and lose their fear allowing them to venture closer to not only homes, yards, pets and even children.
It takes a couple of things, one is commitment to remain steadfast in your practices and the second is to take this issue seriously as it can and has been deadly not only to people but in most cases to the coyotes themselves. None of the following steps will guarantee that you will never see a coyote but hopefully avoid a conflict that will demand further steps to be taken.
Keep in mind that they need food to survive, so if there is no food they will be less likely to stick around. If you feed your pet outside or in the garage make sure to pick up their bowl and remaining food after they are done eating. Also store it inside some type of container with a tight fitting or locking lid. This is also highly recommended for trash as well, coyotes may tip over trash cans and if they spill they have a free meal and a reason to return to your home. More importantly, they now know that you have food and the more they come back the less they will fear you and feel you are a benefit to them.
Coyotes will readily feed upon pets, cats, small dogs and even larger dogs. While these animals usually weigh in around 25-35 pounds several will work together to take down a much larger animal. Never allow pets to roam freely especially after dark. Keep cats inside as they can be easily caught. If you do have pets outside such as rabbits make sure their enclosures are strong and are solid all around especially on the bottom. Even thick wiring mesh and light fencing will not deter them if they are close to getting a free meal.
It is amazing how animals have learned to live with man as we have definitely made it a challenge. And while the goal should always be to live together peacefully sometimes this is not the case. Following these steps though will hopefully keep the coyotes natural fear of man intact, propagating not only a healthier species but also a safer one.
This is what we strive for, a happy ending for ourselves as well as the coyote. Living together can be a plus, as coyotes also help regulate the rodent population and are an important part of any ecosystem. In a word respect, a healthy amount of it shown towards any animal we do not know wild or domestic is best for all involved.
Additional Safety Tip:
Coyotes are looking for an easy meal, some people have reported coyotes following or stalking them and in almost every case there was a small dog or other animal involved. Coyotes are not looking to make a meal of you! If you do like to walk your pet after dark or early in the morning and have some concerns, you can purchase some type of deterrent such as pepper spray or an air horn.