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Living with Coyotes

This is part of our continued series, ‘Living with…’  (wildfires and rattlesnakes) which focuses on life in New Mexico.

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:

photo credits: 1, 2

Comments

Juliann
Reply

Wow. Now I’m a little alarmed. Every so often, we heard and/or see a coyote at my mom’s farm. Naively, we always think they are alone. We do keep our dogs within sight and keep them inside at night, but I’d never considered how easily they could be lured away. Thanks for all the facts and insight!
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The Duo
Reply

We were stunned by how clever coyotes are. Our dogs are never alone outside. We have heard of cases (few and far between) of a coyote trying to snatch a leashed dog also. Startling.

Christy King
Reply

The last time I went to the vet, there was a sign up that a family nearby had lost their dog to a coyote when they were all outside together. I was surprised, as I hadn’t worried about that. I knew not to let the dogs out alone, especially in anything other than full daylight, but I thought the coyotes would be more fearful of people.
Christy King recently posted..Living in the MomentMy Profile

The Duo
Reply

I’ve heard of a Chihuahua taken right off the leash too. When the coyotes get desperately hungry, I think they’ll try anything. Sad.

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