Tips for protecting pets from coyotes

Special to The Tribune and Courier Colorado Parks and Wildlife
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Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds people to take precautions to protect pets from wildlife. In the past few weeks, coyotes attacked two small dogs in the Colorado Springs area. In one case, the dog died. The other dog survived, but its owner incurred several hundred dollars in veterinarian bills.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife warns that coyotes are wild predators that should be treated with caution but there are measures people can take to decrease the odds of an attack.

The coyote (Canis latrans) is a member of the dog family. It resembles a small German shepherd with the exception of the long snout and bushy, black-tipped tail. Coyotes are extremely adaptable and resourceful, and can survive on whatever food is available. They prey on rabbits, mice, birds and other small animals, as well as deer and occasionally bighorn sheep.

In urban areas, coyotes are known to attack small cats and dogs, particularly pets allowed to roam free or left out overnight. A typical coyote weighs between 20 and 50 lbs., and can easily outmatch a smaller pet.

“Coyotes are adaptable predators found in most open habitats, including city neighborhoods, open space, parks and trails,” said District Wildlife Manager, Aaron Flohrs. “They are tolerant of human activities, and adapt and adjust rapidly to changes in their environment.”

He said that coyotes require more calories during cold weather and can be seen actively hunting during daylight hours at this time of year.

People with pets should keep them on a leash when walking. While at home, do not allow pets to roam freely. Even pets in enclosed yards run the risk of predation. People should feed their pets inside in an effort to keep pet food from attracting coyotes and other wildlife.

Remind children not to approach or feed any wildlife. While attacks on humans are extremely rare, people should still take precautions.

Report encounters with aggressive coyotes in the Pikes Peak Region to Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 719-227-5200.

Discouraging coyotes near homes

Frighten coyotes with loud noises; use unnatural odors (such as ammonia) to clean trashcans.

Yell and throw things at coyotes whenever you see them near your home.

Cleanup food attractants such as dog food, garbage and spilled seed beneath birdfeeders.

Use yard lights with motion detectors; appearance of the sudden light may frighten coyotes away.

Protecting Pets and Children

Keep pets in fenced areas or kennels; remember split rail fences and invisible fences will not keep your pet safe from predators. Pet kennels and runs should have a fully-enclosed roof.

Provide human supervision while outdoors, even in your own backyard.

Do not allow pets (or children) to run loose in areas where there is coyote activity.

Keep pets on leash or leave the area when you see a coyote. Most urban areas have leash laws requiring dogs to be under control. Coyotes and foxes are thought to be responsible for many cat disappearances in residential neighborhoods.

Although rare, coyotes could potentially to injure people. Teach your family not to approach wildlife and never feed wildlife.

Treat the presence of a coyote as an unfamiliar and potentially threatening dog.

Coyote Encounters

Rural coyotes are wary of humans and avoid people whenever possible. Urban coyotes seem to be more comfortable around humans.

Overtly aggressive behavior toward people is not normal and should be reported.

Never feed or attempt to “tame” a coyote.

Do not turn your back or run from a coyote.

If approached or followed by a coyote, make loud noises, yell and make yourself look big.

If the coyote approaches to an uncomfortably close distance, throw rocks or other objects.

Report coyote problems to the nearest Colorado Parks and Wildlife Office.