They are now found in subdivisions, rural areas, small towns and even big cities. The increasing population of coyotes across America is making pet guardians think twice about letting their small dogs out for an evening potty break off-leash or their bored house cat for a midnight stroll.
Coyotes do prey on cats, kittens, small dogs and puppies. In a more wild setting, coyotes eat rodents, fish, birds, eggs and vegetables. However, in the urban environment, domestic pets often become their favored food source.
Coyotes were endemic to the western U.S., but have been moving eastward since the early 1970s. They look like a dog, weighing between 35 and 50 pounds.
With large, erect ears and a narrow muzzle, coyotes have golden-colored eyes. Their tails are bushy and their fur, which is a double coat, is red, yellow, tan or gray with a white patch along the lower jaw and neck.
Coyotes hunt at any time of day or night, but tend to be most active at dawn and dusk.
There are several steps you can take to make co-existing with coyotes as safe and peaceable as possible, both for yourself, your pets and the coyotes.
• Do not feed coyotes or allow your large dog to interact with them. Large dogs will often “play” with coyotes as they would other canines. You do not want to do anything to make coyotes lose their natural fear of humans or to feel welcomed on your property. Not only are you endangering yourself, neighbors and pets in the area, if you feed a coyote, you are endangering the coyote as well. If the coyote becomes dependent on humans for food, it may become bold or aggressive and be destroyed.
• Ensure your dogs and cats are up-to-date on core vaccinations, especially rabies vaccination. For dogs, it is important to ensure vaccinations against parvovirus and distemper are up-to-date because these diseases are contagious among canines, including coyotes.
• Eliminate attractions in your yard. This would include pet food, which should be put away at night. Garbage cans should be securely closed. Fruit that has fallen from trees should be removed, and any areas that would be attractive to rodents (which in turn attract coyotes) should be eliminated.
• The only way to guarantee your cat will be safe is to keep him indoors.
• Small dogs should be kept on short leashes and be supervised when off-leash in the yard. Have your dog walk in front of you and try to walk your dog at times of day when lots of people are about and there is plenty of light.
• A fenced yard can also help to keep dogs and cats safe from coyotes. A fence must be at least 6-foot tall to be coyote-proof.
• Many Americans now practice trap-neuter-return and care for colonies of outdoor free-roaming, feral or barn cats. Alley Cat Allies, the international organization devoted to trap-neuter-return, doesn’t recommend relocating cats in areas where coyotes are known to exist. While Alley Cat Allies does acknowledge that coyotes will prey on cats and kittens, it recommends ensuring the cats have sheds or some type of shelter to which they can flee to escape a pursing coyote.
Co-Existing with Coyotes
Alley Cat Allies