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Coytoes Call a Meeting : Pets Gone Green
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Coytoes Call a Meeting


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I wasn’t invited to the recent people get-together here in Denver where the subject was coyotes. It was sponsored by the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Colorado State University. Mom told me all about it and thinks these sneaky animals are pretty smart. I don’t know about that, I told her they might have pulled the wool-over-her-eyes.

Wildlife workers have a coyote vocabulary. When we take walks in the neighborhood we often see coyotes. Mom said those are encounters, where one just pops up and might follow us. An incident is an unsafe situation where they do violence to a dog. The last is called an attack when a human is injured or killed by a coyote. Then she told me that a negative coyote/human interaction in suburban neighborhoods is preventable. Bamboozling, I thought!

I asked her to describe a coyote; brownish-gray, pointed ears, a slender muzzle like mine and a bushy tail. Males generally weigh 25- 45 lbs, females 22-35 lbs. This is the scary part, a coyote she says does not know the difference between a domestic animal and a wild one—they see both as a meal, or maybe a threat to their young or a possible mate. OK, I said, this is getting a little too personal to me. She had my attention. I am determined to not be a part of their prey-base. I weigh-in at 76 lbs so I may be excluded unless we encounter a pretty bold or hungry coyote.

They breed in February & March and are usually born in April and May with a litter size of 5-7 pups. They live in dens; culverts, steep banks, rock crevices, underbrush etc. and typically less than a mile from water. There job is to find food sources for their young. It seems in the U.S. coyotes are meeting their needs in our neighborhoods. There have been more and more attacks on humans and pets. Here on Colorado’s Front Range pet attacks are the #1 conflict. In general they prey on rabbits, mice and birds as well as young deer and sheep. They are fond of trash, fruits, bird feed and insects.

Now for the scoop for pets ‘n their people; when walking keep dogs (especially small dogs) on a short leash, keep cats indoors, clear or trim cover in yards so they can’t hide and don’t leave your dogs outdoors for extended periods of time. The really big thing, don’t feed wildlife. That means don’t leave pet food or water outdoors or bird food. Makes sense to me; Mom said, “once fed they become even more challenging and insistent.”

What else, I asked? We need to learn to coexist, she explained. We all live here, but they don’t fear us like they once did. In other words they have adapted to our city surroundings; we need to instill fear in them again. She said low intensity hazing can scare them away; making loud noise like yelling, clapping, banging pots/pans, throwing rocks vs. high-powered hazing done by wildlife workers using paintballs and pepper balls. Lethal control is a last resort she said, where cities have hired guns to take out coyotes. Sounds dangerous, I said, “Is that really necessary?” A suburb of Denver, Greenwood Village, recently put a plan in place to do just that, she explained. It has created quite a raucous. The Division of Wildlife uses lethal control when human safety is an issue.

Upshot; urban coyotes are here to stay; the Division of Wildlife can help. Keep your local police department updated on sightings. Take home-message; learn to co-exist with coyotes. That requires an understanding of how coyotes survive and how humans can shape coyote behavior. Don’t feed wildlife.

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