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photo of coyote
Coyotes generally avoid humans, even when their home range encompasses largely urban or suburban habitat. However, the presence of a free buffet in the form of pet food, compost or trash can lure coyotes into yards and create the impression that these places are bountiful feeding areas. Without the lure of food or other attractants, their visits will be brief and rare. But a coyote who finds food in one yard may learn to search for food in others. Follow these tips so you don’t accidentally provide a food source to coyotes! 

  • Avoid feeding pets outside. If you must, feed them only for a set time during the day and remove the food bowl as soon as your pet has finished her meal. 
  • In dry conditions, water can be as alluring as food, so remove water bowls set outside for pets and make watering cans unavailable. 
  • If you compost, use enclosed bins and never compost meat or fish scraps. 
  • Good housekeeping, such as regularly raking areas around bird feeders, can also help discourage coyote activity near residences. Bird seed on the ground attracts mice, rats and can attract coyotes. 
  • Remove fallen fruit from the ground. 
  • Keep trash in high-quality containers with tight fitting lids. Only place the cans curbside the morning of collection-many wildlife is active at night. 
  • Don’t leave small pets outside unattended-particularly at night. 
  • Obey leash laws-small dogs on the loose can attract coyotes, particularly at night or early morning.

Coyotes are secretive animals, and studies have shown they can live for a long time in close proximity to dense human settlements without ever being noticed. Such coyotes are abiding by the rules we set for minimal conflicts, and should be left alone. In the spring, when coyotes give birth and begin to raise litters, they concentrate their activities around dens or burrows in which the young are sheltered. At these times, they may become highly defensive and territorial, and challenge any other coyote or dog that comes close to the pups. People walking their dogs in parks or wooded areas may run into these situations and even be challenged by parent coyotes to back off. Fights occur rarely and most often when dogs are off leash. It’s important to recognize such incidents for what they are: defense of space, not random attacks. If you encounter a coyote, do not run away; haze the coyote with techniques such as clapping, shouting, and waving your arms in the air. You may also throw sticks and small rocks to persuade the coyote to move on.

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