While coyote attacks on people are rare, pets are not so lucky. Those that are small or elderly are especially at risk. By taking the actions listed below, their owners will greatly improve their odds:
- Never leave pets outside and unattended, even during daylight hours.
- Avoid feeding pets outside if at all possible. Or feed them during the day and remove all bowls when finished.
- Remove all food attractants from the yard, including fallen fruit.
- Clean areas around bird feeders and store feed indoors.
- Keep lids on garbage cans and cover compost piles.
- Rinse out food containers to remove odors that might attract coyotes. Do the same with outdoor grills.
- House backyard chickens in secure and protected coops.
- Close up crawl spaces under porches and sheds to prevent wildlife access and denning.
For extra protection (if you believe it’s worth the price), install motion sensors or a coyote-proof fence, which should be at least six feet tall with an outward extension or a “coyote roller” bar at the top. Since coyotes are excellent diggers, the fence should extend several inches below ground. Digging under electric fences will not usually occur if the bottom wire is electrified.
Some people claim success with predator urine such as wolf or mountain lion to keep coyotes out of their yards. While this approach may seem logical, there is very little hard evidence or research to support it.
Special tips for dog owners: Dogs smaller than 40 pounds are often regarded by coyotes as prey. They should never be left outside unattended, especially after dark. Larger dogs may also be attacked if they intrude on a pack’s territory and are seen as a threat or competitor. All dogs should be walked on a leash, which increases the owner’s control, but never tied up alone in the yard, which increases their vulnerability.
Special tips for cat owners: A safe cat is an indoor cat. Period. But those who have the resources can try building a “catio.”
See also: Guidelines to follow when you see a coyote…approaching a pet or a child.
Photo credit: ©The Conservation Agency