by Nicole Pajer
There seems to be an increasing amount of stories about dogs being attacked by coyotes these days, and not just in rural areas. As humans have continued to develop land, coyotes have been forced into urban areas and are becoming less fearful of humans. Several years ago, a coyote even entered a downtown Chicago Quiznos sandwich shop and hopped behind the counter!
According to the DFW Wildlife Coalition, coyotes are living and thriving in nearly every city across the United States. While they rarely bother humans, coyotes are a threat to domestic dogs, especially smaller breeds like Chihuahuas and toy varieties. Coyotes primarily feed on small rodents such as rabbits, but will definitely go after a small dog if given the chance.
Here are some tips on keeping your pet safe from coyotes:
- Be particularly cautious during coyote mating season, which is January through March. During this time, coyotes travel long distances to find suitable mates and require extra calories to carry them on their journey. They then expend extra energy to build dens for pregnant females, who will need to stock up on additional meals. Studies show that coyotes are particularly aggressive during this time.
- Keep an eye on your dog when outside. A small dog left unattended in a backyard is an easy target for a coyote. The best way to protect your dog is to go outside with it when you let it out. While a coyote will go after a dog, they tend to shy away from humans. If you come into contact with a coyote, it’s suggested that you wave your arms, shout, and do anything you can to scare it away, such as spray it with a water hose.
- If you have a fence, make sure it’s coyote-proof. According to an article by the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources department, a fence won’t always keep a coyote out. Coyotes can jump over fences and have the ability to dig under a fence or slide through a fence gap. While it’s tough to build a fully coyote-proof gate, fences should be a minimum of 5.5 feet high and should be built on a sloping terrain. To defer a coyote from climbing, fences should not exceed 6 inches between stays. In addition, a galvanized wire-mesh apron can be buried beneath a fence to hinder a coyote from digging under. An additional way to ensure that a coyote won’t leap your fence is to install a coyote roller, which rolls off an animal that tries to climb the fence.
- Keep coyotes wild: Do your part to make sure that coyotes remain fearful of humans. Don’t feed coyotes or leave food out for them. This will cause them to come back to your area and to become accustomed to humans. Don’t put your trash out at night, as coyotes tend to be most active in the evenings and early mornings. Also make sure to securely seal the lids of your garage cans so that coyotes don’t smell food and come into suburban areas.
- Keep your dog on a leash when walking it outside: A dog running loose will attract a wandering coyote. Keeping your dog on a short leash when walking, especially through areas where coyotes tend to thrive, will help to ensure its safety.
As coyotes are moving into urban areas, attacks on domestic dogs are on the rise. A study conducted by a the Cook County, Illinois Coyote Project found that 60% of recent attacks were on smaller breeds such as Yorkshire terriers, Shih Tzus and Jack Russells.
While tinier breeds are the preferred targets, coyotes have also been known to attack larger breeds, such as Labradors and German shepherds, especially if traveling in a pack. This past January, a pack of three coyotes went after a Chicago area man’s German shepherd puppy, beagle, and golden retriever. The pack chased the dogs through the woods, leapt over the owner’s backyard fence, and even broke the glass on the door of the house trying to get at the dogs.
Keep your pets safe by taking the above precautions to avoid coming into contact with coyotes and other wildlife.