[Coyote photo by: Ban Yido ]
You think you own whatever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name
– Colors of the Wind song
Recently I saw a post on the NextDoor about a coyote sighting in the area. Some people were scared for their pets, others argued whether or not hunting and trapping was legal within city limit. It is always very sad to see these discussions. Surely we can do better than that. Especially considering that it is us who came to their turf and destroyed their habitat, in which they’ve lived for thousands of years, to build our homes.
Most of us living in urban areas are rather detached from wildlife, knowing very little about it. And to make things worse the news channels only love airing things that are shocking and terrifying (ideally both) while Hollywood specilizes in creating ridiculous and most unscientific concoctions about wildlife such as ‘The Grey’. In all of these the wildlife is always presented as a canning beasts always searching for its next victim and eating anything that moves or breathes, humans included. [Big sigh…]
As a result of these misconception peddled from the TV screens people are scared and seek the ‘removal’ of the wildlife to safeguard their beloved pets. Co-existence doesn’t seem an option. And at the end of the day the coyote, one of the most native animals of America, is killed in astronomical numbers. It is estimated that about 500,000 of these animals are killed annually. A half a million of beautiful native sentient creatures who lived here and served this land well long before us.
Quick coyotes facts
Coyotes is an extraordinary creatures — intelligent, playful and curious. Here are some interesting facts about them, curtesy of the wonderful Project Coyote.
- Coyotes are members of the dog family; they are curious, adaptable, and learn quickly. They like to watch people. Curiosity and play are often misinterpred as being aggressive and “bold”.
- Coyotes often mate for life, are devoted parents, and are highly communicative (barks, yips, howls).
- Coyotes may be more protective of dens/ territories during pup rearing (April-Aug). They will defend their pups and their mates, especially in a presence of a dog whom they may view as a challenger. Understandbly, they have a family to protect.
- Coyotes eat large numbers of rodents and rabbits, as well as fruit, vegetation, insects and carrion. They help keep ecosystems vital, healthy and clean.
- Coyotes weigh 18-35 pounds in the West and 30-60 pounds in the East.
- Coyotes are naturally wary of people but can habituate to our presence and the reliable food sources that we provide.
- They are active in the daytime and nighttime, but most active at dusk and dawn
Co-existence is not only possible. It is successfully practiced in many regions.
“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” -Mark Twain
Co-existence with wildlife and coyotes in particular is not only possible, it is successfully practiced in many regions of the country. Both urban and ranching communities co-exist successfully with coyotes through rather simple practices keeping their pets and cattle save, while letting the coyote and its family to live as neighbor and serve its important role for the health of the ecosystem. These practices aren’t magical, and simply based on understanding and utilizing the nature of coyotes.You can read a number of great and fascinating stories here at Project Coyote page.
So here I just wanted to share with some great advises and tips on coyote co-existence. I myself no coyote specialist, but one of my most beloved conservation groups — Project Coyote — has done tremendous work with spectacular results brining co-existence with coyotes to many ranching and urban communities.
Good coyote is a wild coyote.
Keep them wild and shy through ‘hazing’.
Here are few points from the Hazing Guide by Project Coyote, but I highly recommend to view their full guide here as it contains more information including on when not to use hazing.
What is “hazing?”
Hazing simply means re-shaping coyote behavior to avoid humans by scaring a coyote away from you, your yard, or your neighborhood. Coyotes are members of the dog family, and just as we train our dogs to adopt good behavior, we can reinforce a coyote’s natural instinct to avoid people without harming them.
How should I haze?
Begin by acting “Big, Bad, and Loud.” Make and maintain eye contact. Wave your arms, a stick or jacket over your head; jump up and down, yell, or throw objects toward, not at, the coyote. The more dominant you act, the better the coyote will get the message that you are something to be afraid of! Keep at it until the coyote leaves.
Hazing must be exaggerated, aggressive and consistent when first initiated. As coyotes “learn” appropriate responses tp hazing, it will take less effort from hazers. Early in process, it is extremely common for coyotes not to respond to hazing techniques. Without a history of hazing, they do not have the relevant context to respond in the tired way which is to leave.
Coyote can and do recognize individual people and animals in their territories. They can learn to avoid specific individual. So the more often an individual coyote is hazed using a variety of tools and techniques and by a variety of people, the more effective hazing will be in changing that animal’s future behavior.
When should I haze?
Haze if a coyote approaches you in a park or in a neighborhood, or if you see a coyote who is comfortable walking your street or visiting yards. Be consistent and persistent: haze every time you see this too-close-for-comfort behavior. Do not stop until the coyote has left the area or you risk teaching the coyote that your hazing behavior is “normal,” and is nothing to be concerned about.
Create less welcoming habitat
If a coyote frequents your yard, consider installing motion- activated lights and/or sprinkler system, (e.g. ScarecrowTM), a nighttime animal deterrent, (e.g. Nite GuardTM or Predator GuardTM), or adding reflective mylar and/or rolling pvc top to your fence, (e.g., Coyote RollerTM).
Removing any attractants to create less welcoming habitats for animals. Examples include thinning vegetation where coyotes may den, not feeding pets outside, cleaning around bird feeders and BBQs. Also, remember, the coyote has a very developed sense of smell, so that they can even spot a prey that is scurrying below the snow. Don’t feeding pets outside, clean around bird feeders and BBQs.
Here are few more links to various Project Coyote pages with some great information about coyotes, their behaviors and easy people co-exist with this clever and mischievous creators who are so vital for our eco-systems.
- Many great videos about co-existence, coyote behavior and more.
- I really like this publication. It has a lot of great information on coyotes and a very good detailed information on Hazing, see page 17.
- Dogs and Coyotes
In closing I wanted to share this one more quote which I think is more applicable in regards to our attitude towards wildlife than ever.
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
The beautiful coyote photos #2, #3, #4, #5 are free and available for anyone through Pixabay.