Coyotes becoming problem for urban areas

Oct 24, 2012 by Charles Martin

Coyotes have long inhabited rural areas, but they now are a growing problem near cities and in the suburbs.

As residential developments spread into former pastures and woodlands, coyote sightings are becoming more common for homeowners, according to Jim Armstrong, a professor in Auburn University's School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences and an Alabama Cooperative Extension System specialist. This is especially true in the fall, when parent force last year's litter away from the pack to establish their own range.

"Coyotes usually have four to six puppies," he said. "Both parents will hunt prey to feed their young, and the group stays together until the next breeding season in the fall. Then the parents run their pups away. Most coyote sightings occur this time of year."

Armstrong says there are ways to keep coyotes away from homes and yards.

"Most people are concerned about their personal safety and the safety of pets," he said. "Coyotes are not a major threat to humans, and there have been very few incidents. However, coyotes, which typically weigh 25 to 35 pounds, will eat cats and small dogs and they can destroy a garden."

In his studies, Armstrong has found coyotes cause the most damage for fruit and vegetable growers. He said the common belief is that coyotes are only carnivorous – eating and occasionally larger ones such as a small deer—but they like some as well, especially watermelons.

"Habitat modification is the first line of defense against coyotes," he said. "The more you keep them wild, the more you can discourage them."

Armstrong's suggestions for keeping coyotes away include:

  • Do not leave open bowls of cat food or dog food outside. When coyotes, like all , find a they will return for more. If you feed your pets outside, you need to clean up what they don't eat.
  • Do not put in an unsecured, outside garbage can until just before it is to be hauled away.
  • Homeowners with a garden should put up an electric fence before the crop comes up. If you wait until the plants start to grow, the coyote has already learned there is food available and will keep trying and eventually go under or over the fence. It is easier to keep them from starting a bad habit than it is to change it.
  • If you see a coyote in the distance, make a loud noise to scare it away.
  • Lethal control is often needed on coyotes already coming into a yard. In urban or suburban areas, you need to get an animal control specialist to help get rid of them. You can shoot a coyote if you are in an area where it is legal to discharge a firearm. Proper safety measures should always be practiced.
  • Some large dog breeds, such as the Great Pyrenees, have been trained for predator control, and they may work quite well for protecting livestock; however, in residential areas, they may not be practical. Similarly, burros are sometimes used in rural settings to keep coyotes out of pastures. A burro will kick and trample a coyote, but a burro will also kill a dog if it gets too close.
  • Do not use poison. In Alabama, there are no poisons legally registered for coyotes, because the poisons would not be safe and they might kill non-target animals as well, such as cats and dogs.

Explore further: Scientists discover new 'transformer frog' in Ecuador

Related Stories

Study: Foxes can't outfox coyotes

May 25, 2006

Illinois wildlife biologists say coyotes, known to be killers of domestic pets, might also be causing a decline in the Chicago area's fox population.

Coyotes thriving in U.S. cities

Jan 04, 2006

Coyotes are thriving in some of the largest U.S. cities, despite scientists' belief that these mammals intently avoid urban human populations.

Who's afraid of the big, bad wolf? Coyotes

Sep 11, 2007

While the wily coyote reigns as top dog in much of the country, it leads a nervous existence wherever it coexists with its larger relative, the wolf, according to a new study from the Wildlife Conservation ...

Recommended for you

Scientists discover new 'transformer frog' in Ecuador

9 hours ago

It doesn't turn into Prince Charming, but a new species of frog discovered in Ecuador has earned the nickname "transformer frog" for its ability to change its skin from spiny to smooth in five minutes.

US gives threatened status to northern long-eared bat

11 hours ago

The federal government said Wednesday that it is listing the northern long-eared bat as threatened, giving new protections to a species that has been nearly wiped out in some areas by the spread of a fungal ...

Mice sing like songbirds to woo mates

12 hours ago

Male mice sing surprisingly complex songs to seduce females, sort of like songbirds, according to a new Duke study appearing April 1 in the Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience.

A new crustacean species found in Galicia

13 hours ago

One reason that tourists are attracted to Galicia is for its food. The town of O Grove (Pontevedra) is well known for its Seafood Festival and the Spider Crab Festival. A group of researchers from the University ...

Ants in space find it tougher going than those on Earth

14 hours ago

(—The results of a study conducted to see how well ants carry out their search activities in space are in, and the team that sent them there has written and published the results in the journal ...

Rats found able to recognize pain in other rat faces

14 hours ago

(—A team of researchers working in Japan with affiliations to several institutions in that country, has found that lab rats are able to recognize pain in the faces of other rats and avoid them ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.