Adrienne Clark is an Animal Protection Officer with City of Austin’s Animal Services. With denning season underway, she is getting the word out about how to respond to coyotes in the community.
How to respond to coyotes in our neighborhood:
As Austin grows, our interactions with wildlife increase. To keep coyotes and other wildlife wild, we can follow a few, simple preventative measures:
- Always keep trash and compost in a secure bin.
- Keep your barbecue grill clean.
- Keep the area under your fruit and nut trees free of droppings (a coyote’s diet can be up to 40% fruit in Texas).
- Avoid feeding pets outdoors. (If you must feed pets outside, feed during the daytime and remove the uneaten food as soon as the animal has finished).
- Feeding wildlife and feral cats can attract coyotes. In addition to coyotes eating the food, mice and other animals will be drawn to leftovers, which can subsequently attract predators such as foxes and coyotes.
To discourage coyotes from associating people with safety and food, eliminate the food sources around your yard and engage in hazing if you see a coyote on your property. Hazing is a process used to reinforce a coyote’s natural wariness without harming them. To haze, be big and loud: Wave your arms, shout, use noisemakers, throw non-edible objects in its direction (but not at it), or spray the animal with a hose. It shouldn’t take much for the coyote to get the memo—just be persistent and maintain eye contact. Do not haze if a coyote is sick, injured, with pups, or is in its territory or out at night.
Be aware of possible coyote den sites when near natural areas. Coyotes are protective of pups and may view people or dogs (even larger dogs) as interlopers. Coyotes den, mate and birth pups generally from January to June and are most territorial then.
- Keep small pets inside if possible and monitor them when outside.
- Provide secure shelters for poultry or other animals living outside.
- Avoid using extendable leashes; walk dogs on leashes that are 4-6 feet in length.
- Avoid letting dogs explore vegetation that you cannot see through.
- If a coyote is walking behind you and your dog, it may be exhibiting a behavior called ‘flushing’, or ‘escorting’. Flushing is a normal behavior wherein the coyote is diverting the passerby because its pups are in the area, akin to a human parent being watchful while their child is on the playground. If the animal has become visible, its focus is on the dog. If you see a coyote while walking with your dog, do not run. Make sure your dog is secured and at your side or pick up smaller dogs and leave the area calmly.
For more information on hazing and pet safety, visit: http://www.austintexas.gov/department/coyotes-central-texas. For immediate assistance, or to report a coyote that is sick or injured, call 311.