THE BIOLOGY & BEHAVIOR OF THE COYOTE (Continued)
Stefanie Schwartz, DVM, MSc, DACVB
Read Part 1 of Dr. Schwart'z Coyote Safety Series here.
Recommendations for Pet Owners
We can’t change coyote behavior, but we can change our own habits. There are many simple things that we can do to discourage a coyote's approach, and to make their approach less rewarding:
Bring even large dogs inside after dark. Don’t leave them outside and unsupervised during the day time. Coyotes may hunt in pairs or packs and there are reports of group coyote attack large dogs, especially in the suburbs.
Fences Make Good Neighbors
Coyotes are athletic and motivated hunters. They generally prefer to dig under fences or go through fence gaps (e.g. at gates). They can jump or climb fences, particularly at corners or where cross-braces provide a foothold. There is no such thing as a completely coyote-proof fence; however, there are some basic requirements that will help deter coyotes from invading your space:
Even when fencing fails to keep coyotes out, it will at least give you some idea of the weakness in your perimeter. For example, the coyote may have left evidence of where/ how she or he penetrated the fence (e.g. hair) so that you can fortify the barrier most effectively.
Additional Tips & Considerations
Coyotes are quick to adapt or habituate to sounds, flashing lights, scarecrows, propane cannons; sound or visual stimuli will only be temporarily effective, if at all. Motion-sensitive lights may deter coyotes from approaching initially, but will likely fail over time with sufficient incentive (food sources) to enter your property.
Some dog breeds (such as Great Pyrenees and others), and even llamas and donkeys, effectively defend against coyote predation of herds of sheep, for example. They are most effective when bonded to herd. This is best accomplished by raising the guardian animal with the herd they will eventually defend. Unfortunately, there are reports that coyote packs and mountain lions too may attack the guard animal itself.
Landscaping and greenery surrounding your home and yard provides potential food, water, shelter for coyotes:
What Do You Do If Approached by A Coyote?
Don’t behave passively, submissively or show your fear. Instead, challenge it and act with more confidence than you might actually feel. Experts advise that you act aggressively and try to frighten it away:
Removal of only a few problem coyotes from a local population may reinforce fear of humans in the remaining population. This can solve coyote problems in that locality for months or even year; BUT…it doesn’t stop other more brazen coyotes from moving in to occupy vacant territories. The best way to deter coyotes from injuring you or your pets or herd is to understand their behaviors and behave proactively. Remember, we can’t keep a coyote from being a coyote, but we can learn to minimize their success or incentives to enter our territories.
What To Do After a Coyote Attack
If you or your pet have been bitten or scratched by a coyote, wash the affected area immediately with soap and water. If the wound is deep, bleeding profusely, or exposes bone or major blood vessels and nerves, proceed immediately to the nearest veterinary or medical emergency center without delay.
Pets may survive the initial attack with minimal veterinary care or following intensive care treatment, depending on the severity of the initial trauma. Unfortunately, even surviving pets may die of infection or complications of their injuries days, weeks or months after the attack. Any coyote inflicted injury should be evaluated right away by an emergency clinician for you or your pet.
Rabies can be transmitted from an infected coyote or by handling your pet following attack by a rabid coyote’s saliva. Most coyotes are healthy predators, but rabies is always a possibility so make sure that your pet’s rabies vaccine is current, too.
Report any incidents to local authorities (e.g. your local animal control agency or state Department of Fish & Game). They will appreciate your help in collecting data to better follow coyote trends in your area.
Coyote attacks on livestock should be reported to the county agricultural commissioner.
Warm wishes and please keep your friends safe!
Dr. Stefanie Schwartz is the staff veterinary behaviorist for California Veterinary Specialists. Dr. Schwartz sees patients at CVS in Carlsbad Monday through Wednesday. Appointments in Orange County are offered on Thursdays at The Veterinary Neurology Center in Tustin. To make an appointment at either facility, please contact CVS at (760) 431-2273. Read more about veterinary behavior and Dr. Schwartz by clicking here.
Read more articles by Dr. Schwartz on her website: http://petbehavior.org/.