The question is common, and a good one to ask: what do I do if I’m with my dog and I see a coyote?
Coyotes are a wonderfully intelligent, curious, and family-oriented canid that can be found from coast to coast. They also play a vital role in our ever-changing ecosystems, and learning to co-exist with coyotes benefits entire communities. Sensationalized media accounts of conflict or interaction with coyotes, however, can make this a frightening proposition. That’s why The Fur-Bearers put together a list (with the help of Coyote Watch Canada, who was interviewed for an upcoming episode of our Defender Radio podcast) of three ways you can keep your pet safe while co-existing with wildlife.
- Stay leashed up. Having control over a dog when wildlife appears on a walk prevents all sorts of conflict. In fact, one study found that in 92.3% of reported dog-coyote interactions in Canada, dogs were off-leash. If you’re walking a dog and you see a coyote, bringing your dog in close to you (regardless of their size) makes them a part of you, as opposed to a separate, and potential threat (in the coyote’s perception). Additionally, dogs can cause significant stress and changes in behaviour to other wild animals, leading to conflict, or even vehicular collision in the case of chasing. After pulling a dog in close, proceed with hazing techniques to scare away the coyote (click here for more on hazing and how to respond to the presence of a coyote). This is also the best way to prevent your dog from getting injured by a trap.
- Remove attractants. Whether it’s your backyard or a favourite trail, any individual(s) leaving out food for wildlife (not just coyotes) can create conflict. Animals will frequent an area that they believe will be a source of food, regardless of human constructs like property lines and fences. When visiting such a potential source, a dog can be viewed as competition, a threat, or prey by other animals. Remove any attractants you find, and if it appears someone has intentionally fed wildlife, contact authorities to make sure they’re aware of this inappropriate behaviour.
- Get to know the neighbours, and supervise. Coyotes get a bad rap when it comes to wildlife-pet conflict. But even in the most urbanized areas, there are dozens of species that can come into conflict when pets are left unsupervised, or are not near a person. New Brunswick media have been published stories recently of an eagle that appeared to be predating on a small dog in a family’s backyard. Birds of prey, coyotes, foxes, raccoons, skunks, ermines, mink, and even outdoor cats can come into conflict with dogs, so it’s important to supervise your pets when they’re outside.
A healthy ecosystem is beneficial to everyone – including humans and our pets. By educating ourselves and our families, we can keep our local ecosystems healthy, and keep safe the animals who call them home. Tune into Episode 418 of Defender Radioto learn more about conflict investigations and how else we can keep our pets safe.