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Written by Douglas Erickson
Coyotes seen wandering around in resedential and intercity communities is not an uncommon occurance. As land continues to be developed coyotes are subject to locate to other spaces in search for shelter, food, and water. With the concern of coyote sightings comes unsupported fear and injudicious programs to rid communities of these creatures.
Many Argue that ridding neighborhoods of coyotes by trapping or killing is not the answer. "The answer lies in learning what attracts them to our homes in the first place, and the using strategies to solve that problem at the source" (HSUS).
History has proven that coyotes are customarily isolated creatures that tend to avoid human contact. Coyotes that have become familiar with residential and intercity living have learned that very few threats exist; allowing them to feel comfortable to loiter near homes and people. "These coyotes have become habituated (lost their fear of humans), probably owing to the bounty of food that they have become accustomed to feeding upon in your neighborhood" (HSUS). By no means should people accept this type of behavior, and they should take the initiate to learn how to teach a coyote that this type of behavior is not acceptable with humane practices.
As a guide to understand why a coyote may be lingering around a residential property or in the presence of a person consider the following:
- Garbage: What type of food waste is going into the outside garbage? Is the food disposal bag sealed? Are the waste cans securely closed and out of reach of unwanted guests?
- Animal food & water: Are outside dishes filled with pet food and water easily available to unwanted guests. Coyotes may not only be nibbling on the tasty morsels but they may also be preying on other types of animals feasting on the outside treats.
- Small outdoor pets: Are small pets in outdoor places securely protected from wild invaders. Coyotes are known to prowl during the dark and early hours of the morning.
- DO NOT FEED COYOTES. Coyotes are wild animals, not domestic animals. Even the best of human intentions can create a hostile environment for people and pets living near or around the area.
HSUS provides the following practices to create an unfavorable environment for the coyote.
Hazing is a method that makes use of deterrents to move an animal out of an area or discourage an undesirable behavior or activity. Hazing can help maintain a coyote's fear of humans and deter them from backyards and play spaces.
Methods of Hazing
Using a variety of different hazing tools is critical so that coyotes don't get used to redundant or single stimulus devices, sounds, and actions.
- Yelling and waving your arms while approaching the coyote.
- Noisemakers: Voice, whistles, air horns, bells, "shaker" cans full of marbles or pennies, pots, lids, or pie pans banged together.
- Projectiles: sticks, small rocks, cans, tennis balls, rubber balls.
- Other: hoses, water guns with vinegar water, spray bottles with vinegar water, pepper spray, bear repellent.
"Go away coyote!" The simplest method of hazing a coyote involves being loud and large:
- Stand tall, wave your arms, and yell at the coyote, approaching him if necessary, until he runs away.
- If a coyote has not been hazed before, he may not immediately run away when you yell at him. If this happens, you may need to walk towards the coyote and increase the intensity of your hazing.
- The coyote may run away, but then stop after a distance and look at you. It is important to continue to go after the coyote until he completely leaves the area. You may need to use different tactics, such as noisemakers, stomping your feet, or spraying the coyote with a hose, to get him to leave.
There are several tools that you can carry with you while walking your dog that can be used to repel coyotes. These include:
- Homemade noisemakers
- Whistle or small air horn (you can purchase small air horn "necklaces")
- Squirt guns
- Pepper spray
- Sticks or other objects to throw towards (but not at) the coyote
In Your Yard
Remember, keeping pets and pet food inside is the best way to keep coyotes out of your yard. If you do encounter coyotes, all of the above methods can be used in your yard at home. First, try the "Go away coyote!" method (yell and wave your arms as you approach the coyote). Here are some additional methods you can also use:
- Squirt the coyote with your garden hose
- Spray the coyote with vinegar water
- Bang pots and pans together
Important Things to Remember
- Never run away from a coyote!
- The coyote may not leave at first, but if you approach him closer and/or increase the intensity of your hazing, he will run away.
- If the coyote runs away a short distance and then stops and looks at you, continue hazing until he completely leaves the area.
- After you have successfully hazed a coyote, he or she may return again. Continue to haze the coyote as you did before; it usually takes only one or two times to haze a coyote away for good.