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How to keep coyotes out of your yard

Published On: May 20 2013 04:00:59 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 04 2013 02:44:35 PM CDT
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iStock / akurtz

By Chaya Kurtz, Networx

Coyotes have colonized most major cities, including Chicago and New York City. While spotting wildlife can be exciting, there are compelling reasons to discourage coyotes from living on your property. Coyotes are naturally afraid of humans, but as they get used to living with humans they get less and less fearful, and can become aggressive. Pets, like dogs and cats, look like tasty treats to coyotes, as well. You will live more peacefully with coyotes if you have less contact with them, and if they remain afraid of you.

There are some benefits of having coyotes around in the suburbs and cities. As natural predators of rodents, they do a bang up job of controlling rat and mouse populations during certain times of the year. If you happen to like coyotes, another benefit is having them around as a subject for photos and observation. (That’s a bit weak when it comes to defining a benefit, I know.) In general, coyotes are regarded with disdain due to the fact that they become aggressive toward humans once they’ve acclimatized to human-dense environments. Though they do help to control rodent populations at certain times of the year, coyotes have also reduced the populations of native species like the Red Fox. They also do considerable damage to the productivity of American goat and sheep ranches.

The first line of defense against coyotes is to avoid attracting them. Coyotes can adapt to any environment that provides food, water, shade, and space. Keeping food sources, especially garbage, scarce is your first priority. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommends putting garbage into garbage cans that cannot be opened by coyotes and cannot be tipped over. The Boulder County municipality recommends removing as many rodents from your yard and garden as possible, since coyotes are attracted to rodents. Animal control experts in Denver recommend picking up fruit that falls in your yard, as coyotes are also attracted to fruit as a food source (their diet is about 20 percent fruit). This should go without saying: Never feed coyotes, no matter how cute they look.

Pets and pet food are also attractive to coyotes. Clean up spilled pet food outdoors. Pest control experts in Denver recommend that you bring all pets inside at night, and that during the day you refrain from letting cats and dogs roam free.

If you happen to come face to face with a coyote, do your best to scare it away. Remember, if coyotes become comfortable around humans, they eventually become aggressive. The worst thing you can do if you see a coyote in your neighborhood is do nothing, or to turn your back to it. Scream, yell, wave your arms, and throw rocks toward it (animal rights people: I am not saying to hit it with rocks, I am saying throw rocks to scare it. There is a difference.)

Fencing is another way to keep coyotes off of your property, but it is not quite as effective as removing food sources. Wire mesh fencing of a height of at least five feet is the most effective fencing to protect against coyotes. Coyotes will burrow under fences, so installing a line of barbed wire helps to stop that. Installing rollers at the top of the fence will prevent the coyotes from getting the foothold necessary to clear the fence.

Lights are another way to repel coyotes. Coyotes don't like loud noises and flashing lights. Installing motion-sensor lights, or like, launching a night club, in your yard will help to discourage coyotes from prowling there. Your neighbors will prefer the motion-sensor lights to the raging bass and colored strobes. You've been warned.

With all this said, you should now understand that coyotes don't like loud noises and bright lights, but they do like foods like fruit from trees, garbage, and pets. Although they are beautiful animals, you don't want coyotes to get comfortable around humans in your area, because coyote comfort around humans = coyotes more likely to initiate contact with humans.



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