Although we are still feeling the bite of snow chilled winds from our local mountains, spring is just around the corner, and you can bet your bottom dollar that the wildlife around you is preparing for it.
Coyotes often get a bad rap, despite the fact that they are just kind of doing what they do, in the words of Dr. Alan Grant, Jurassic Park survivor. If we are negligent enough to provide them a steady diet of our house pets, they are going to keep hanging around looking for that free meal.
The survival instincts and evasion tactics of your dog or cat are not up to the standards of a fox, bobcat, or even a rabbit, one of the critters a coyote is used to hunting. If they find your fat old cocker spaniel lounging on his back in your yard, soaking up sunshine, or taking a midnight potty break, they are always at risk. Your pet is ALWAYS on their menu plan, it is just a matter of timing. Even if your dog has been safe for years, today may be the coyote’s day. Additionally, we are constantly encroaching on their shrinking habitat, creating short jaunts to the easy pickings of your favorite pet.
While any time of year coyotes are dangerous for your pets, there are certain times that are even worse. Here in Southern California, coyote denning season starts as early as January. Denning season is very dangerous because dens are hard to come by for coyotes. They don’t dig their own, but instead rely upon someone else to start it, and then they take over and enlarge it.
This means, they don’t find a location they like and start digging, they move to where the home is. The possibility of that being in your neighborhood is high. They may also use vacant sheds, and holes under garages, sheds, and other outbuildings.
Once denning starts, the coyotes get extremely territorial, viciously defending the territory and their mates with equal violence and cunning. Females in heat are known to lure out male dogs, where the pack attacks them to eliminate the danger and the competition of an adult male dog.
While we view this as an attack upon our precious pets, coyotes merely see is as defending their den surroundings to keep their potential pups safe.
Humans should avoid known denning areas as well, for the same reasons. Although coyote attacks on adult humans are few and far between, the fiercely protective parental instinct of a coyote is nothing to trifle with, and getting too close can lead to a painful bite, likely followed by a series of even more painful rabies shots.
For small children though, coyotes represent a greater danger, with numerous videos on YouTube showing just how serious a threat coyotes are to anything smaller than them. They even go so far as to attempt to grab children from driveways and back yards with adult humans present.
When walking your pet, even in a normal suburban neighborhood, keep your dog leashed. It could be the last lifeline to a dog if it’s grabbed by a coyote. The leash can give you the ability to draw your beloved pet back to you, where you have a chance to scare the coyote away. A coyote smash and grab will likely end with you never seeing your dog again. You will only hear your dog’s terrified screams as the coyotes race away with your best friend.
So watch your pets folks, keep them safe, and watch them closely when they are outside. Always keep them leashed if you are out walking. Remember, despite the horrible light we paint coyote’s in, they are just doing their best to exist among us, and raise their own young in an ever shrinking wilderness.
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Photo credit: aabrewerphoto