Coyotes Go Urban
Canis latrans is a distant relative of our beloved dog, Canis lupus familiaris. Originally from the Midwest plains, these clever animals are now found coast to coast and getting quite comfortable.
As the human population has encroached into coyote territory, coyotes easily adapt to habits of humans and capitalize on the interaction, most often to the irritation of the human. In rural areas, coyotes prey upon grazing animals, small domesticated pets and on the very rare occasion an unfortunate human!
Today, coyotes are seen in many urban communities walking the streets most often during their active hours of dawn and dusk. Coyotes are omnivores and sadly, pets are on the preferred list for coyotes.
Coyotes can easily clear a 5-foot fence and a 6–7 foot fences can still be scaled by an ingenious and hungry coyote. If you live in an area with coyote activity, an unattended pet in a fenced backyard may still fall prey. Stories abound from pet owners where coyotes have entered fenced backyard with a sad outcome.
The New York Times recently reported coyote sightings in Manhattan, probably one of the most urban and densely populated areas in the country. Coyotes are here to stay and it is critical for people to discourage food opportunities by securing garbage bins and keeping a watchful and protective eye on pets.
Images above: Wikicommons, (left) Macmanes, (right) Mayra
Factoid: Coyote, Dog or Wolf?These animals are from the same genus Canis but an interesting characteristic that defines them is the way they run. A coyote runs with his tail down, a wolf with his tail straight out and a dog runs with his tail up.
If you meet a coyote...Nearly every populous city offers a remote area for recreational activity: hiking, biking, walking or camping. Part of the enchantment of these areas is to offer a respite from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy nature. Often dogs are more than happy to accompany you on these adventures.
Wildlife and most likely coyotes live in these areas. You and your dog are entering their territory but you should not encourage contact or offer food. Many people enjoy the solitude of these remote areas but traveling in pairs does offer safety in many ways.
It is wise to keep your dog on a leash and not let the dog chase the coyote. Coyotes often travel in packs and should your dog chase one coyote, he may find himself facing many coyotes in a remote area.
It is a rare occurence that a coyote will be aggresive towards an adult, merely due to the size difference, but in Southern California encounters are increasing. If you do encounter a coyote, experts provide the following tips:
- Do not run. It will only encourage a chase which the coyote will certainly outrun you. Instead, stand tall and use what you have to make yourself appear larger. Open your coat or hold your backpack over your head.
- Make eye contact with the coyote and slowly back away. Do not turn your back to the coyote.
- If rocks or sticks are readily available, throw them at the coyote.
- Make loud noises, by yelling or clapping your hands.