Living with Coyotes
It’s a warm summer evening, just after dusk, say 8.30 p.m. or so. Everything is quiet. Only a light wind whistles through the cactus. Suddenly, a shrill squeal erupts through the night: it’s the sound bunnies make when they die. A coyote emits a series of yips, followed by a howl. He’s alerting the pack to a fresh kill.
This continues each night for a few weeks, or until the food source runs out. Then, the coyote pack moves on to new grounds. They will be gone for weeks. But, when new bunnies arrive in the area, they will return.
Though coyotes are not usually aggressive toward people, (unless they are suffering from rabies) they will go after pets. Every month someone at the dog park reveals a horror story. If anyone’s missing a cat, I’ll give you two guesses what happened.
Once, I saw a large German shepherd dog, which was chasing a lone coyote past our backyard. The coyote paused to make sure that the naïve dog would follow. The German shepherd was running much too fast for me to intercept him, not understanding that he was no longer the hunter but the prey.
Coyotes are that smart. And, when they realize that a dog lives in a yard, they will plot to either lure it away or figure out when someone isn’t there watching the pet.
Facts you may not know about coyotes:
- The coyote population is exploding across the United States because we’ve killed off its number one competitor, the wolf.
- Coyotes eat everything from small mammals, birds, rodents and lizards, to grasses, nuts, and even fruits and vegetables.
- Coyotes communicate by making eleven different sounds.
- Coyotes mate for life and both parents take care of their pups.
- Coyotes can jump horizontally up to 13 ½ feet!
How can you keep your dog safe?
- Walk your dog during the day (coyotes usually hunt at dawn and dusk).
- Be alert. If you see one coyote nearby, you can bet its pack is close also.
- Keep your dog on a leash.
- Don’t allow your dog outside alone.
You can buy specialized fencing, called ‘coyote fencing,’ which is used to keep the animals out of your yard. Here’s an example:
Lane & Juliet
The writing and photography team behind Southwest Compass, the travel blog for the American Southwest.