Reprinted with permission from Westie Rescue.
In 2008, a Westie in Southern California fell victim to a coyote.
Coyote attacks are on the rise and the chances of encountering a coyote over the next several months will likely increase. Coyotes bear litters during April and May, with females delivering between three and nine pups. Adult coyotes caring for young will need to forage more which can lead to increased aggressiveness. Coyotes are wild animals that are predators.
[Coyotes live all over the US and Canada: from maine to California and from Florida to Alaska.] An upswing of increased aggressiveness is prevalent throughout Southern California. In urban areas, coyotes have attacked small pets; cats and dogs included and have attacked small children as well. Most of the reported encounters include the regions of Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Orange and San Diego counties.
Coyotes are drawn into suburban landscaped environments that can support an abundance of rodents and rabbits, and where they can utilize water sources, pet food, household refuse, and even house cats and small dogs as prey. However, small dogs are not the only size at risk. Our personal friend; Sheriff Nick’s and his two German Shepards were attacked while on a walk in a suburban neighborhood a few weeks ago. We see them on our way to and from work often; more so, than in years past. Coyotes can lose their fear of people and come to associate humans with this safe resource-rich environment. This problem is exacerbated by people who intentionally feed coyotes. In such situations, some coyotes have begun to act aggressively toward humans, chasing joggers and bicyclists, confronting people walking their dogs and stalk small children.
Not so many years ago, coyotes only came into neighborhoods at night. Now they can be seen scampering around at dusk or dawn – or even in broad daylight. When food and water become scare, coyotes will seek what they need in towns and cities. To keep coyotes wild or to prevent a coyote from becoming habituated to humans, it’s important that coyotes retain their natural wariness of humans.
Coyotes are capable of scaling or jumping fences upwards of 5 1/2 feet in height. They can be deterred by increasing the fence height to at least 6 feet and adding an angle at the top facing outward at 45 degrees and 16 inches wide. (For fences over 6 feet check local fence height laws, a variance may be required).
To avoid problems with coyotes, people should follow these guidelines:
- Never feed a coyote – Deliberately feeding coyotes puts pets and other residents in the neighborhood at risk. In addition, people can inadvertently feed coyotes by leaving pet food or garbage where they can get it. Feed pets indoors or promptly remove outdoor dishes, bring bird feeders in at night, store bags of pet food indoors, and use trashcans with lids that clamp shut.
- Garbage – Spray a little ammonia in your trash can several times a week to cut the odor of food. Place moth balls or moth ball cakes in areas where coyotes sleep or hang out to deter them from staying.
- Clear brush and dense weeds from around dwellings – Reduce protective cover for coyotes and make the area less attractive to rodents. Coyotes, as well as other predators, are attracted to areas where rodents are concentrated, such as woodpiles and seed storage areas.
- Protect children – Although rare, coyotes have been known to seriously injure young children. Never leave children unattended in areas known to be frequented by coyotes, even in familiar surroundings, such as a backyard.
- Protect pets and livestock – Keep small pets such as cats, rabbits and small dogs indoors, especially at night. They are easy, favored prey. Coyotes have been known to be responsible for a large number of cat disappearances in a single neighborhood.
Deterrents & Scare Tactics
- Motion activated devices such as lights, strobe lights and sprinklers can be useful
- Use a coyote shaker: A can containing a few coins which can be shaken and thrown at the coyote
- Throw balls or rocks. Bang two pans together, blow a whistle, use an air horn or use high pressure water sprayer
- Alternate the deterrents to prevent the coyote from getting used to one method
Most coyote sightings should be reported to local animal control districts. However, if a coyote acts aggressively or attacks people or pets, call the emergency number 911 or contact the nearest Dept of Fish & Game office.
What should I do if a coyote approaches me?
Wave your arms. Shout in a low, loud tone. Throw objects at the coyotes while maintaining eye contact. Make yourself look as big as possible; if you are wearing a jacket open it up like a cape. If possible go towards active or populated areas but do not turn your back on the coyote.
California Dept of Fish & Game: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news/issues/coyote.html
Los Angeles Animal Services:http://www.laanimalservices.com/wildlife_coyotes.htm
More Info about coyotes: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote