City Slickers

May 2, 2008 at 2:16 am 1 comment

Coyotes have become a real nuisance here in Red Wing.  Over the past winter large numbers of them have begun to prey on trash – and small pets in town.  According to WCCO TV:

The coyotes started to bother Craig Kronbeck when one of the snarling predators threatened his beagle puppy only a few feet away from him in his yard.  That got Kronbeck thinking about his children’s safety.  “A 4-year-old isn’t very big,” said Kronbeck, who lives in Red Wing. “The coyotes are so brave now, you flip the light on and still have to go out and chase them away.”

In Red Wing, city officials responded quickly to Kronbeck’s concerns. Earlier this month, the city council voted to trap and kill the neighborhood’s 10 to 20 coyotes.

 According to a recent article in the Science Museum of Minnesota:

Why would coyotes want to live in the city?

Of course, it’s all about shopping and convenience. Coyotes have been very adaptable through their evolution and moving into cities has probably made their lives even easier. Food is plentiful by poking through people’s garbage, eating from pet food containers that are outside and being able to find small animals easier. Golf courses, cemeteries and parks are prime coyote hangouts as small animals thrive in the habits that receive regular watering and nutrients. If the small animals are there, larger predators like coyotes will find them sooner or later.

That’s it in a nutshell.  Life is easier in the city — especially in a small town like Red Wing where garbage is left out overnight, pets are regularly fed outdoors and large, interconnected tracts of wild land exist thoughout the steep bluffs that the city is built on.

Or perhaps they read that Red Wing was voted one of A Dozen Distinctive Destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation?

Either way, it looks like they’re here to stay.  As Doug Stewart of the National Wildlife Foundation noted:

Once an urban coyote is trapped, some people believe it should be removed to a nature preserve somewhere, not released into the very neighborhood where it was found. Even if a coyote were to be relocated, it might be capable, like Lassie, of coming back home. (A coyote thinks nothing of trotting 20 miles in a night.) And if it didn’t, another coyote might well take its place. “No matter what anyone might try to do to remove coyotes from cities and suburbs,” says Curtis, “they’re going to be there.”

So what should we do?  First off, let wild coyotes remain wild.  Don’t feed them or try to tame them.  Next, make your yard less attractive to urban invaders by following these steps recommended by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Preventing Coyote Problems
If you are concerned about coyotes on your property or in your neighborhood, follow these tips:

Do not feed coyotes! Problems occur when people begin feeding coyotes, either deliberately or inadvertently.

Garbage should be stored in secure containers. Do not put meat scraps in compost piles.

Remove bird feeders and outside pet food containers.
Coyotes will prey upon small mammals attracted to birdseed and pet food.

Don’t allow pets to run free and keep a watchful eye on them.
Walk dogs on a leash, especially at night.

Provide secure shelters for poultry, rabbits, or other outside pets.

Clear wood piles, brush piles and other potential cover for coyotes.

Don’t leave small children outside unattended.

Reinforce the coyotes’ natural fear of humans by turning on outside lights, making loud noises, throwing rocks and so forth. Be aggressive in your actions! Although the response may not be immediate, eventually the coyotes will flee.

Consider fencing your yard. Use a minimum height of 6 feet and bury the bottom at least six inches below ground level. Slant the top of the fence away from the enclosed area to prevent them from getting over the top.

Encourage your neighbors to follow the same advice.

For the record, we haven’t had any problems at our place (and we have studiously avoided following most of the WDNR’s excellent advice).  We’re located in a steep, heavily wooded, rural area at the very edge of town.  They sing to us from the woods most nights but we haven’t seen any signs of them in the yard. And we do look.

If you’d like to see an interesting example of an encounter between a coyote and a large dog, check out this site:   Farm Dog vs Wiley Coyote

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Entry filed under: animals, dog, dogs, minnesota, safety, wildlife. Tags: .

Cleanliness Isn’t All Its Cracked Up To Be Is Smarter Better?

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Cyn McCollum  |  May 18, 2008 at 10:00 am

    And even though it isn’t politically correct and probably not even legal, a pellet gun is wonderfully effective. Quiet, air driven, won’t alert the neighbors or the police, or even the coyotes. Hurts like hell, but doesn’t hit hard enough to penetrate except at close range.

    When my daughter was little I used one to keep the coyotes and stray dogs out of our 2 acre clearing. Worked like a charm.

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