by Jaymi Heimbuch
Large quantities of concrete make up our suburbs and cities, yet these places are still part of nature and many wild animals try to eek out a living among the manicured lawns and lush city parks. That means we humans need to understand how to live alongside our wild neighbors. Typically, problems with urban coyotes begin with humans who are not quite sure how to coexist.
With coyotes, a little bit of seemingly innocent behavior such as letting one’s dog interact with a coyote or leaving scraps out to feed them are the start of much more serious problems. Even something as simple as a lack of awareness about attractants in one’s own yard, like bird feeders and compost piles, can be at the root of coyote problems.
Whether drawn closer to people by accident or on purpose, once a coyote is habituated to human presence to the point of becoming a problem animal, this individual and nearby coyotes may very well be doomed. The suggestion most people put forward to handle coyotes is to either kill them or relocate them. Neither of these strategies are long-term solutions, especially on a large scale. First, relocation is illegal in most states for wildlife disease control reasons, so if a coyote is trapped it is euthanized. Second, coyotes are territorial and when a territory opens up because the resident coyotes were removed, more coyotes quickly move in. Unless targeting a specific and known problem coyote, removal is generally expensive, ineffective and sometimes even dangerous for pets which can often accidentally be caught in traps.
A neighborhood worried about coyotes can’t necessarily eliminate the issue by attempting to eliminate coyotes.
To really get a handle on coyote problems, the most straightforward and least expensive route is to be proactive. Educating the entire neighborhood about how coyotes work and how to avoid problems with them is the quickest solution to coexistence. And this education should begin the moment a neighborhood spots its first coyote.
To this end, we have 10 suggestions on how to help your neighbors become more coyote aware, reduce the amount of fear and misunderstanding about coyotes, and reduce the potential for negative interactions.