Pet Talk: Pets shouldnt roam where coyotes do
ARVADA, Colorado Our 5-year-old cat, Sully, had survived two years in the near-wilds of Montana, where mountain lions also roam, but he couldnt make it six months in the northwest Denver suburbs. This fat feline disappeared one night in early December, and we knew he was a goner.Two weeks after his disappearance, we learned that a neighbor had seen three coyotes supping on our Sully one snowy evening. So fat that people always asked if he was pregnant, Sully didnt have a chance against three lean, ravenous coyotes.Sadly, family pets frequently disappear from back yards. Its not just coyotes stalking them: Foxes, mountain lions, wolves, bears, hawks and alligators also make a dent in the pet population. But few predators are as ubiquitous as the coyote. And hawks and foxes cant carry off a 30-pound dog.During a daytime stroll in an off-leash park near her home in Boulder, Pam Morrison watched as her Siberian husky, Jack, took off after a coyote 100 yards away. From a distance, she saw the dog abruptly sit down.I thought, Thats really weird. Whys he just sitting there looking at this coyote?Some hikers coming from the dogs direction filled Morrison in: The coyote was not alone. There were five in all, stationed in a circle, and somehow, Jack had managed to stop at the edge of the circle, without running into it.Finally, Jack slowly got up and walked back to Morrison.The incident taught her to be more careful, although she still lets Jack off leash wherever its legal.He has a lot of energy, she says. He needs to run.Two centuries ago, coyotes were confined to the Southwest prairies, but since then have adapted so well to human sprawl that their territory now covers the entire United States. They have even been found in New York City.
As large as a medium-size dog, coyotes can scale a 6-foot fence.I think theyre here, theyre established, and we live with them the best we can, says Rob Calvert, a wildlife biologist with the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department.Theyve weathered all kinds of attempts to lower their populations.The best that pet owners can do is use common sense to discourage coyotes from venturing onto their turf, wildlife experts say (see sidebar.) Be especially careful in the spring, when coyotes are bearing pups and will behave more aggressively to protect them.Coyotes rarely attack humans, although such attacks, generally on small children, have been noted in places such as Colorado and California, where both human and coyote populations are high. And there are benefits to maintaining a healthy coyote population near our neighborhoods. Calvert says they keep rodent populations down.
Tips on making your property less attractive to coyotes: Scare or threaten coyotes with loud noises and bright lights. Pick up small objects, such as tennis balls, and throw them at the coyote. Coyotes will raid open trash and compost piles. Secure your garbage in tough plastic containers with tight-fitting lids, and keep it in a secure building when possible. Take out trash the morning that pickup is scheduled, not the previous night. Dont feed or try to pet coyotes. Feeding, whether direct or indirect, may lead to bold behavior. Feed pets indoors. Keep bird-feeding areas clean. Remove feeders if coyotes are regularly seen around your yard. Close off crawl spaces under porches and sheds. Coyotes use such areas for resting and raising young. Educate your neighbors your efforts will be futile if neighbors are attracting coyotes. Source: The Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
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