Coyotes are a species native to North America that, through their incredible ability to adapt to human-managed areas, has increased their range across almost all habitats. These family-oriented canids play a vital role in ecosystems, particularly in managing populations of small rodents that easily grow and can spread disease in urban centres, or wreak havoc on farms.
A mated pair of coyotes stay together for life, and both the mother and father of a litter play a role in feeding and teaching pups – one of the many reasons it’s vital to find non-lethal solutions to conflict with coyotes.
Through a combination of media sensationalism, mythology, and outright spin by those who stand to profit, coyotes are frequently viewed as “nuisances” or potentially dangerous animals. As predatory animals, conflict can quickly escalate if not appropriately addressed, and occasionally, pets or livestock can be injured.
Unfortunately, much of the sensationalism and fear pushed forward by trappers or hunters also ignores the basic science that has indicated a strong tie between persecution and increased litter sizes, disruption of social structures, and, ultimately, more conflict. Outright culls of coyotes in some regions have been attempted in our natural history, but as one of the most adaptable land animals on the planet, coyotes always return to available resources.
In the majority of investigated cases of coyote conflict – and backed by a growing body of scientific evidence – it is human behaviour that has led to a problem arising. And it is with human behaviour that solutions can be found.
Coyotes go where the food is – just like any dog. By eliminating the resources they desire (also known as attractants), we can eliminate their interest in our backyards or specific areas. Tips on this include:
- Never feed coyotes (even if they’re hungry looking). Intentional and unintentional feeding of coyotes creates the majority of conflict.
- Keep pet food indoors.
- Keep trash cans covered and compost secure.
- Clean up any fallen fruits or berries.
- Properly remove deadstock (on ranches or farms).
- Do not allow any bird feeders to overflow.
Educate your neighbourhood
Full community buy-in is necessary to prevent and mitigate conflict with wildlife. Talking to your neighbours and friends, offering presentations in schools or community associations about coyotes, and even hosting a night to watch one of our webinars with family can be helpful.
The Fur-Bearers are also strong advocates of wildlife feeding by-laws for municipalities, which can be used as an educational tool or for enforcement when conflict situations begin arises or escalating.
Educate your coyotes
Coyotes are highly intelligent animals, and can be taught just like our dogs. Of course, we want to teach them to avoid people and pets, and stay out of certain areas – but the same principles apply. Using aversion conditioning techniques, also known as hazing, we can educate the coyotes on why staying away from people is a good idea. Hazing can include:
- Picking up any small dogs or children with you, to make yourself seem larger.
- Making yourself large and loud – shout “Go Away Coyote” and wave your arms above your head.
- Create shake cans or use a walking stick that you can throw toward (but not at) a coyote to scare them.
- Use motion sensitive lights or sprinkler systems to make an area less appealing, particularly at night.
- Never run from a coyote.
These non-lethal solutions have proven effective time and time again in communities across Canada. If you would like information on our programs or help creating policies in your municipality, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The eLearning module developed by our friends at Coyote Watch Canada and the City of Toronto is an outstanding resource to learn more about coyotes in the urban landscape and how to coexist. Click here to give it a try!