Adapting our Behavior and Learning to Live with Coyotes
Coyote’s have always been living amongst us, they are timid animals by nature and most often choose to be elusive and unseen. Times have changed though and we have extended our territories to include theirs and they have adapted to our presence and are becoming desensitized to our daily activities, in essence some of them are losing their fear of people.
Coyotes are not going away... in fact they are thriving in the midst of our urban developments and in spite of them. Urban developments have so much to offer the coyote in the way of agriculture, insects, rodents, trash, carrion, wild rabbits, gophers, squirrels, small pets, water … and no predators. We are essentially an oasis in the desert for these wild canines. By intentionally or unintentionally having food available for these animals combined with our lack of knowledge on how to respond to a coyote’s presence we are inadvertently conditioning or “training” that animal that it is safe and they have no need to fear us. Whether we are living in a wildlife area, corridor, foothill, suburb or the city, the coyotes presence is known.
Becoming proactive and changing our behavior, by learning how to co exist is the preferred method of wildlife control. Unlike trapping and the use of poison which is illegal. Animal proofing teaches the animals in your area, boundaries. By eliminating the attractions that bring the animals to your home and by your behavior you can condition the animals to stay away.
Understanding the Coyote for Effective Hazing
It’s all about Territories and Behavior
It’s not a question of do you have Coyotes in your area, the question is how are they behaving? Coyotes are everywhere, surviving in the hills, foothills, suburbs and inner city, most of us in the areas where the coyote has maintained his fear of people do not see them.
The problem arises when they lose their fear of people and their behavior and habits change.
- Do you see them in your yard during the middle of the day
- Do they stand their ground if approached
- Do they approach you
If the answer was yes to any of these questions, the coyotes in your area are displaying behaviors that could escalate and become a problem. The time to act is NOW. Behavioral problems are easier to avoid with a little education on prevention than they are to correct once a behavior pattern has been established. The solution is to be aware and recognize these signs and changing behaviors as they are occurring, before they escalate into a problem – for people and the coyote.
Further down, has specifics on how to achieve this. But we do recommend familiarizing yourself with the coyote behavior which precedes the specifics.
- Male coyotes tend to the females in an underground den. Dens are typically constructed or made in large overgrown fields, hill tops, vacant buildings, or just under a pile of fallen trees that have gone undisturbed for a length of time. Clearing of fields and open space around your property will greatly reduce the coyote activity and needs to happen in Dec – Feb before they are seeking out a place to den.
- A regular den is often used year after year, unless the coyotes feel threatened at the den site. Once a den has been discovered coyotes will move to another den
- Mating occurs in February and March with a gestation period of 63 days. Litters average 8 or 9 pups.
- Mature males may have territories as large as 30 to 40 miles which are patrolled on a somewhat regular basis. How far they extend their territory depends on the food base.
- Territories are often abandoned during shortages of food or denning sites.
- Several family units may concentrate in an area with an abundant food supply for a short period of time. Litter size is also directly related to the abundance of food.
- Juvenile coyotes usually disperse in November or December to seek their own territories and mates. Homeowners need to be aware and extra vigilant during these months so that juveniles don’t take up residence in your neighborhood.
- Important coyote foods vary with the area and availability and include, squirrels,cottontails, mice and rats, carrion and road kill. Domestic fowl and small pets are also taken when available. Fruits such as watermelons, apples, grapefruits, and persimmons are also eaten seasonally if available.
- Coyotes have a wide variety of vocalizations in order to communicate with one another. Howls, yelps, and high-pitched cries, but they also bark, growl, wail, and squeal sometimes. The bark is usually a warning to announce an unfamiliar and not welcome presense. Family groups yelping in unison as agreeting or to locate other members of the pack. Coyotes are most often heard around dawn and dusk. They may howl to high pitched sirens and fire whistles at any time of day or night.
- Just like dogs, coyotes use their urine and scat(feces)in order to mark their territory. Western Coyotes weigh only about 20 pounds, making them the size of a medium dog
- Coyotes are always alert to their surroundings, whether it be in a city or the wilderness. The predator and prey are always in tune to the smallest of changes in environment, like the scents in the air, vibrations on the ground, sounds, sights, and tastes of their geographical locations. These stimuli carry messages that allow animals to react and respond immediately or flee… many times before we ever knew they were there. When hazing try to address all of these senses or at least mix it up so the coyote does not become desensitized (used to and does not fear)by what you are doing. If Coyotes are making their presence known, then they have been there for a while, observing. People are very predictable we live on schedules leave and return at the same times every day, let the pets out at the same time etc. the coyotes are smart and keen observers they know your schedule when you leave and return and what time in the am + pm the pets are let out.
When NOT to Haze
- If the animal is Injured
- If the animal has an established den on your property with known pups.
– Just make it known that you know she is there with her pups, most often once the den has been discovered just the increased attention will get her to relocate. It may take a few days depending on the age of the pups..
Times have changed and so has the un attened freedom our pets once had. Hazing will not make Coyotes completely go away. It is reconditioning their behavior to fear us and avoid our spaces during the day.
“Just because you do not see them does not mean they don’t see you”
They have adapted to our presence…now we must adapt to theirs.
Coyotes are extremely aware of their environment and do not like change and will be very suspicious of anything that is different .. They are timid, spook easy and are very sound sensitive. Use this knowledge to your advantage and get creative,and be consistant. Keep these props handy and with in reach before they are needed.
- An small air horn (used at ball games),
- Vinegar-filled “Super-Soaker”,
- Power nozzel on a hose.
- Construct a “clapper”, take 2 pieces of wood and clap together,
- Pots and pans banging together
- A small can filled with small pebbles to shake, (Tape the lid on so it can be thrown)
- Walking stick
- Extra leash to swing
At anytime :
- If a coyote approaches too closely,
- pick up small children or pets immediately (to appear larger than you are )
- Act aggressively toward the animal; wave your arms, throw stones, and shout at the coyote. Make yourself appear larger by standing up (if sitting), or stepping up onto a rock, stump, table or chair.
- Gather surrounding people together to make an even larger group.
The idea is to convince the coyote that you are to be feared and a potential threat. I have worked with coyotes in small areas for over 20 years, they are so afraid to have me in their “personal space” and always run and try to get away.
“The only thing that protects us from wild animals is their fear of us”
Pro Active Animal Proofing
Unlike trapping and the use of poisons which are illegal. Animal proofing teaches the animals in your area,boundaries. By eliminating the attractions that bring the animals to your home and by your behavior you can condition the animals to stay away. This is especially true starting in February when coyotes are searching out denning sites.
Identify what is attracting the animal to the property:
- Usually it is a multitude of factors, so make sure all are corrected at the same time. Food ,Water and Shelter
Don’t feed feral cats:
- Coyotes prey on these cats
Feed dogs and cats indoors
- Coyotes have an extremely acute sense of smell.
- Pick up fallen fruit on the ground and on the tree, Coyotes can climb fruit trees. Gardens should be protected with heavy duty garden fences or be enclosed by a greenhouse,
- Do not feed the birds or other wildlife. Coyote’s are attracted to the many birds and rodents that come to feeders.
Keep small dogs and cats indoors:
- Always visually survey your yard before letting any dogs out even during the daytime.A coyote will run from you before he runs from a dog.
- Especially from dusk to dawn. When taking them out, have small dogs on a leash, small dogs will charge coyotes to protect their territory.
- Once a coyote finds easy prey it will continually hunt in the area.
If you see “Missing Cat” signs posted in your area, chances are there are coyotes in the area. Secure chicken coops ith wire tops and underground wire bottoms to prevent digging under.
Don’t leave small children unattended where coyotes are frequently seen:
- Coyotes do not eat children, but children are small and not as intimidating and they usually smell like food, so a habituated coyote may approach and nip.
- Coyotes are wild canines and have the same behaviors as our domestics do.
If there are coyote sightings in your area,
- Prepare your children for a possible encounter.
- Explain the reasons why coyotes live there (habitat / food source/ species adaptability)
- What they should do if one approaches them (don’t run, be big and mean, and scream as loud as possible “go away coyote” By shouting a set phrase when they encounter one, children will inform nearby adults of the coyote’s presence.
- Demonstrate and rehearse encounter behavior with the children and neighbors.
- Keep deterrents in their play area at all times. (An old hockey stick, broom, a can filled with stones (to shake + throw) or a pile of stones near the play area, can help prepare children for an encounter and will remind them of effective coyote encounter behavior.
Modify the landscape around your home:
- Shrubs and trees should be pruned several feet above ground level so coyotes can’t hide in them.
- Clear and Close off passages to areas beneath porches or other crawl spaces with heavy-duty wire mesh.
- Remove outdoor debris such as overgrown grass areas, woodpiles, and secure trash lids.
Purchase a coyote-proof fence with a roll bar