Coyotes pose a problem throughout the United States. These predatory animals have adapted to urban landscapes in addition to their native rural lands. They pose a danger not only to pets but also to humans. However, coyote attacks on people are very rare. The first step in dealing with coyotes is being able to recognize them.
The coyote is a member of the canidae (dog) family along with wolves, jackals, coyotes, foxes and domestics dogs. At first glance, a coyote might appear to be a dog, but upon closer examination, you’ll notice telltale differences:
- Long, lanky legs
- Thick, bushy tails
- Large, pointed ears
- Long, pointed nose
While these characteristics are common in some dog breeds, they are exaggerated in coyotes. Their fur tends to be nondescript—in hues of brown and/or gray.
Since a coyote can make a four-foot horizontal jump, both you and your pets are in danger. It’s best to avoid areas where coyotes have been spotted.
- Never leave your pet unattended outdoors.
- Walk your dog on a leash.
- Practice situational awareness whenever you’re outside—be aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Don’t leave food and water outside. That’s an open invitation to wildlife.
The object of coyote hazing is to make the coyote leave the area, not to harm the animal. Use it to deter the animal from doing harm to you and your pet. Hazing can reinstill the natural fear of humans into a coyote which has become habituated to humans. When confronted with a coyote, follow the rules below:
- Don’t run from a coyote. You can’t outrun it.
- Don’t ignore it.
- When you walk your dog, carry noisemakers such as a can with coins in it, a whistle, etc.
- Make eye contact with the animal, and do whatever you can to startle it into fleeing. If you don’t have a noisemaker with you, clap your hands loudly, wave your arms and shout; in other words, act crazy, not afraid. You want the coyote to view you as a threat.
- Throw objects and/or projectiles toward the animal. Use a squirt gun to spray it with water while you yell. If you’re at home, use a garden hose.
- If you run across a pack of coyotes, try to identify the leader of the pack and direct your attention toward it. The pack will follow its leader.
- Watch to see that the coyote leaves the area, and stay alert even after it has left.