Foiling urban coyotes

March 31, 2011 at 10:48 am 7 comments

This week local KARE 11 reported that a Maltese in St. Louis Park died from injuries related to a coyote attack.

Jerry Stamm of St. Louis Park let his dog, Cici, outside on St. Patrick’s Day evening, then noticed a coyote in his fenceless backyard.

It’s a sad story that keeps getting repeated with different players. Brilliantly adaptive coyotes are becoming increasingly common in urban and suburban areas around the world. They’ve been a problem here in Red Wing for years and now, following trends of human urbanization, large numbers of the wily tricksters are relocating closer to the city.

“It’s a blessing and a curse to live in a place like Minnesota,” Peggy Callahan said, from the Wildlife Science Center.

Callahan says there are more coyotes than black bear in the state — well over 25,000. They extended east of the Mississippi after 1915, spreading to 48 states. Residents in St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, and Golden Valley have reported coyote sightings.

How should pet owners respond to the threat of sharing their environment with coyotes? The smartest course of action is to deal with it much like you would face a problem with your dog’s behavior — in a proactive way with smart action instead of reactively in fear.

If coyotes live in your area follow these rules to avoid conflicts.

  • Make sure all pets (cats, dogs, rabbits, chickens) are protected by a sturdy, coyote-proof enclosure when they aren’t under your direct supervision. This includes potty breaks, as Mr. Stamm discovered.
  • Keep dogs and cats up to date on vaccinations. Coyotes can carry diseases that are transmissible to pets.
  • Don’t put out food for deer or other ground-dwelling wildlife near your home. Keep areas under bird feeders clean to discourage rodents that may attract coyotes.
  • Don’t feed your pets outside.
  • Keep garbage, compost and other waste in well secured containers.
  • Keep your dog on a leash on all walks unless he has solid off-leash obedience skills. And even if your dog is brilliantly well trained – it is still important to keep him in your sight.
  • If you see coyotes near your home yell, wave your arms, flash bright lights, bang things together and otherwise act like a dangerously mad threat. Don’t let them feel comfortable near your home.

Men have lived side by side with coyotes since we left the trees. Significant problems with the arrangement are more common now because there are few human-free areas left for coyotes to live in. Reduced hunting pressure from humans, and an increasing number of humans who actively or inadvertently encourage coyotes to acclimate to their presence has also created a near perfect environment to increase conflicts between our species.

Coyotes aren’t evil or malevolent, they’re just smart and opportunistic and you don’t need help from the Acme Corporation to foil them. If you put one tenth as much effort into discouraging coyotes as they do into looking for ways to take advantage of you – you’ll come out ahead in the game.

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Entry filed under: dogs, minnesota, pets, wildlife. Tags: , .

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Anne  |  March 31, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    i’ve seen coyotes in Minnetonka. and for awhile i lived in Woodbury- saw a dead one in the median right off 494- near the mall. I swear it was the size of a GSD- that’s what we thought it was too until we got close enough to really see it

  • 2. Rick  |  March 31, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Thanks for a great post! I live in the western suburbs of Chicago (West Chicago is the town) and see coyotes all the time. The precautions you refer to above are common sense and don’t apply to Coyotes alone. Raccoons, skunks and other creatures carry diseases as well and pose a threat. The precautions you mention will deter some of these animals as well.

  • 3. H. Houlahan  |  March 31, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    People need to realize that “coyote proof” housing for small animals is a lot more difficult to achieve than they think.

    There is, for example, NO WAY to predator proof an outdoor wire rabbit hutch. If the coyotes don’t just rip the wire apart, the raccoons will reach in and play cotton gin with bun bun.

    Even though the English shepherds are tremendous anti-predator patrollers, I am glad for the cinderblock walls of the lower level of my barn, and the effectiveness of a good electric fence around my goats and, in the summer, the meat chooks.

  • 4. SmartDogs  |  March 31, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    True – hence the importance of taking all the steps you can to create an environment that doesn’t attract the trickster in the first place.

    While it would be extremely hard for someone like you with a farm full of tasty and largely defenseless prey animals to achieve this – it should not be terribly difficult for a suburbanite with half a clue.

  • 5. Luisa  |  April 2, 2011 at 12:05 am

    “If you see coyotes near your home yell, wave your arms, flash bright lights, bang things together and otherwise act like a dangerously mad threat.”

    Heh. Knock yourselves out, puny humans, and observe their cool appraisal and utter contempt. I love these guys [and I'm the nervous one taking dogs out at night up in the mountains, with coyotes watching from the shadows].

    We take the stupid ones out of the gene pool, and Br’er Coyote just gets smarter and smarter.

  • 6. SmartDogs  |  April 2, 2011 at 10:10 am

    They’re less bold here, probably because we’re right at the very edge of prairie farm country where coyotes are still hunted for sport and vermin control on a regular basis. I’ve chased more than one off just by looking fat and mean.

    Our city has hired hunters to kill them inside the city limits. (The ‘city limits’ here range widely and most of the ‘city’ is farms and undeveloped woodland). One of our legislators just proposed a bill allowing counties and municipalities to put a bounty on them. Not sure where I stand on that, but I do think that regular hunting – especially of the bolder beasts, is a good control.

  • 7. hecate  |  April 5, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Here in rural Nebraska, there are enough hunters using large crossbred sighthounds on ‘yotes that they won’t come anywhere near my (double fenced) Greyhounds.

    Not that they’d last very long if they did.

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