Saturday, November 26, 2011

Coyote Encounters

Many communities in Colorado are seeing a spike in coyote populations along with alarming signs aggressive behavior. This year there have been a handful of attacks in Broomfield on humans as they walked through various sections of open space. Most of these attacks occurred while they were walking the family dog. Complaints from the public grew and the Division of Wildlife stepped in. The coyotes in the area were removed but everyone was quick to acknowledge the fact that a new pack of coyotes eventually would move in. Hopefully the new residents won’t show signs of similar aggressiveness. I have been fortunate not to have any coyote troubles when fishing but using a little extra caution just in case.

Few wild animals have capitalized on human’s suburban existence as well as the coyote. Larger than a fox, the coyote is able to muscle its way into prime habitat yet small enough to escape the attention of humans. Finding shelter within the hedgerows and culverts the coyote dines on everything from rodents to refuse. This wily canine will even make a meal of the neighborhood pets if given the chance.

At first glance canis latrans resembles your family pet and in many cases folks mistake this wild canine for the domestic variety. In some tragic examples children have made a similar misidentification and actively try to engage the coyote for play. Thankfully most of these instances result in the animal running away. Human injuries from coyotes are uncommon but result in painful rabies prevention. The Washington Department of Wildlife has a great list of precautions as well as other facts on their Living With Wildlife page (link listed below). The list has been summarized for easy reference.

Don’t leave small children unattended where coyotes are frequently seen or heard.

Never feed coyotes in your neighborhood or the wild.

Use coyote resistant trash receptacles and never give coyotes access to garbage.

Prevent access to fruit and compost, as scavengers such as coyotes and foxes will use this as a food source.

Feed dogs and cats indoors. Coyotes and foxes will use this also as a routine food source walking literally to your doorstep.

Don’t feed feral cats, as coyotes will prey on them as well. Sources of food attract the animals into the area and more food sources allow them to linger for long periods of time.

Keep dogs and cats indoors, especially from dusk to dawn as this is when predators hunt most often.

Modify the landscape around children’s play areas to remove possible hiding places for coyotes, foxes and other wild animals. 

Build a coyote-proof fence to help protect small pets, livestock such as chickens, domestic rabbits and others if coyotes frequent the area.

Photo Acknowledgement: These photos were taken in Littleton Colorado and sent to me via one of my super fantastic followers. These photos are not to be copied, re-posted or used for any reason. Contact me via e-mail for more details.


TexWisGirl said...

i know the Dallas 'burbs have been dealing with them for years, too. taking family pets out of backyards, getting very accustomed to folks out in their yards. here in the country, we live with them but i'd hate to be in the city and have to worry about a small dog...

Shoreman said...

Ditto on what TexWisGirl said. Here in Northern California we also have the coyote problem. I spent a couple of years hunting coyotes in conjunction with the Wool Growers Association and I can tell you, they are smarter than you think.


Bill Trussell said...

These creatures are a big problem here in Alabama. I can remember as a boy hunting them using the rabbit distress call, my brother and I brought down numbers of them with the call.

Cofisher said...

I've got love/hate feelings about coyotes. I've seen some that were beautiful in their natural surrounds and I've seen the destruction to wildlife, farm animals and domestic pets. During the summer with the windows open I can hear their yips and howling close by and I love it. I recently saw a mangy, skinny looking critter walking down a main street in my town(in Broomfield).

DocOutlaw said...

I have to say, I kind of miss seeing coyotes ever since I moved to the east coast from CO. We have them here, but they are a lot sneakier. Seeing them always made it feel more rustic.

Coloradocasters said...

@TexWisGirl: These animals get more and more crafty. I marvel at their tenacity at times and raise my guard at others. Smart as a fox and nearly the size of a wolf in some cases the coyote is an animal I respect and fear at the same time.

@Shoreman: For the record I support coyote hunting in Colorado but detest bait-traps or shooting them from helicopters. This animal deserves enough respect to hunt on foot vs. paw…until a line is crossed. A clan of Broomfield latrans were attacking people with incidents being recorded once a week it seemed. Sometimes you have to take the gloves off.

@Cofisher: Broomfield is where I hear the most incidents and where coyotes were recently removed. The area is beautiful and with so much natural open space I don’t blame them so much for trying to defend it. Hopefully the attacks are limited to one group now removed.

@Bill Trussell: That is the stuff! Coyotes are curious creatures and that can be their downfall. Population control benefits the coyote and patches of open space or urban areas that they dwell within.

@DocOutlaw: Excellent comment and every creature (even most humans) deserve respect and area to roam. The coyote has earned its niche in the wild and even in our neighborhoods whether we want to admit that or not. The scary part is that they are losing their fear of humans in a few places.