Co- Existing with Coyotes
It is important to note that coyotes rarely attack people—
in fact only one fatality has ever been recorded in the U.S.
Coyotes are very wary of humans and are common throughout Texas. They have adapted easily to the expansion of human communities into their habitat and can occasionally be found in urban and suburban neighborhoods like ours.
Below are a few tips for co-existing with coyotes…
1. Do not feed coyotes
The number one most effective way to prevent coyote attacks in your neighborhood is to eliminate wildlife feeding. Coyotes that are fed in residential neighborhoods can lose their fear of people and may eventually test humans (and pets) as possible prey. Intentional feeding, such as bait stations in yards or parks, should be strictly avoided. However, many people unintentionally feed coyotes by leaving pet food or garbage out at night or having large bird feeders. Coyotes are usually not interested in bird food, but bird feeders often attract rodents, especially squirrels, which then attract coyotes.
2. Do not let pets run loose
Coyotes live nearby, even if you don’t know it, so do not let pets run loose. When walking, keep dogs on leashes. Pets left outside, even with fencing, remain at risk for predation and unnecessary conflict as coyotes can easily climb an 8 ft wooden fence. Do not leave your pets unattended outside. Remember, electric fences may keep your pets contained but do not keep other animals away.
Free-ranging domestic cats and feral cat colonies may also serve to attract coyotes; it is important that domestic cats be kept indoors and that feral cats be spayed or neutered to control this population. Bringing food inside when outdoor cats are not feeding might alleviate part of this coyote attractant.
3. Do not run from a coyote
When you encounter a coyote, shout or throw something in its direction (do not hit the animal.) Do not run away. Do not play victim if you can help it. If a coyote seems intent on defending a certain area, particularly around pupping season (May), your best bet may be to alter your route to avoid conflict with a normally calm animal; understand that there may be seasonal patterns of behavioral changes and act accordingly. We recommend if you are out walking that you carry some sort of noise maker with you like a whistle.
If you see a coyote during the daytime, you should exhibit caution, as that coyote may have become habituated to humans. If you are approached by a coyote, you should yell, wave your arms, and/or throw something in the direction of the coyote (do not run away).
4. Do not create conflict where it does not exist
If a coyote is acting as a coyote should by avoiding humans and pets, do not seek out opportunities to haze or otherwise aggravate the animal. Embracing communal respect is key.
5. Report aggressive, fearless coyotes immediately
When a coyote fails to exhibit fear of humans or acts aggressively, the animal should be reported as soon as possible to the appropriate officials by calling 311. Signs of aggression are similar to those shown by domestic dogs and include agitated barking (unprovoked), raised hackles, snarling, growling, and lunging.
It is important to stress that our relationship with coyotes is directly affected by our behavior — coyotes react to us, and we can foster mutual respect or a lack of respect through cues we send to them.