With our mild weather, it's time for our springtime wildlife to start their annual matchmaking and courtship rituals. While most go unnoticed, our community is perfect habitat for the infamous Coyote. Thankfully, most interactions are uneventful but as we have encroached on their habitat, their behavior has evolved to be far less fearful of our activities. In nearly all cases, if you leave them alone, they'll leave you alone.
This is the time of year when breeding peaks and goes until early March. With a gestation period (pregnancy equivalent) of approximately 60 days, most litters of pups are born between late April and early May. From February to mid-March mother coyotes are actively seeking out den sites. By 3 months the puppies are learning how to hunt. While it's an incredible sight, it may not be what you want to see on your property. So what can you do to peacefully co-exist? Here's a few simple precautions:
1. Keep your yard clear of clutter such as piles of brush which make suitable dens.
2. If you have an older home with a foundation that might allow wildlife to get under, consider heavily screening off any openings or access points. This will also keep other unwanted wildlife like skunk and raccoons away.
3. Motion lights: Install bright motion lights to startle away coyotes. A fenced yard should be at least 6' high.
4. Closely supervise when your dogs are outside. An adult coyote will either see your beloved pooch as a potential rival in their territory, or, food. Coyotes look much bigger than they actually are; usually between 20-40 pounds with a max weight of 55. One of the telltale signs of coyote actively living around you is looking for their scat. They'll poop in the middle of trails or easily seen places to let everyone know it's their turf. Looks like domestic dog poop but typically has fur and bones which are easily seen.
5. If you see a coyote near you and it's too close for comfort, making loud sounds including screaming and holding your ground usually works. Usually a scream/yell and a couple of steps towards the animal is enough to send them bolting. If you have an unusually inquisitive coyote, it can't hurt to keep a 4' pvc pipe, cane or some other object you can use if needed. Just remember coyotes very rarely attack humans; it's almost unheard of.
6. Keep garbage in a proper and secure receptacle and keep all pet food indoors. Also, if you ha e bird feeders, keep those tidy as too many seeds on the grass or pavement will attract rodents which will attract coyote.
7. It's always better to learn how to cohabitate with the coyote you have hanging around. Most lead nomadic lifestyles and move around a lot. They rarely stay in the same place for more than a few months unless they have a litter. If you drive one out you'll simply open up the territory for another coyote to come in.
These are magnificent animals that can be safely enjoyed from a distance and remember, any animal that feeds predominantly on rodents is a friend of ours! If you feel like you need to address a concern about a coyote near you contact Rob Carmichael, Curator of the Wildlife Discovery Center, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Obviously, if it's an emergency simply dial
9-1-1. Enjoy your spring!
To learn more about coyotes click here.
Our thanks to Rob Carmichael for his assistance with this page.