How to Keep Your Durham Pets Safe from Coyotes
Did you know that there are coyotes in Durham? In fact, they live in every state except Hawaii! Several of my neighbors in my own south Durham neighborhood have reported sightings – and have heard them howling. Contrary to the popular belief that they live “out in the wild,” they thrive around human civilization. Urban sprawl, combined with wildfires and flooding are forcing them to encroach upon human territory. Just because you haven’t seen them, doesn’t mean they aren’t there. They eat our garbage…and, sometimes our pets. Along our Eastern Seaboard, an even larger species of coyote has grown. This new version of the breed is large enough to take down deer, much less, a house cat. In rare instances, they can even attack humans.
So, how can we protect our beloved pets from coyotes?
Harass coyotes, whenever you see them (keeping in mind your own safety, of course!). Hazing them can be very effective. The idea is to keep them fearful of humans, so they will stay away. Never feed a coyote, as that encourages them to come around.
Make sure your property is not conducive to coyote habitat: Close gaps under porches, decks and sheds with strong wire (chain link or steel wire – NOT chicken wire) that’s buried 18-inches (to prevent digging). Ask local authorities to close any open storm drains.
Keep garbage securely locked-up. Only set out at curb on the morning of collection day. Clean up other food sources such as: barbeque grills, pet food bowls and fallen fruit. Vegetable gardens and compost piles should be far away from your outdoor pet areas. Also, you might want to rethink feeding wild birds and having that koi pond. Small birds and fish are also on the coyotes’ meal plan. Small animals that are housed outdoors (bunnies and chickens) are also a huge attraction to coyotes.
Cats are clever and as long as they have a nearby climbing structure, they can usual evade (non-climbing) predators. If you live in a treed area, that will do. If not, you might consider constructing one: a pole at least 7-feet high, covered in something easy for cats to climb (carpet, sisal rope, etc.), with a platform on top for the cat to wait-it-out, until the coast is clear. However, ALL CATS SHOULD BE BROUGHT INDOORS AT NIGHT. Also, make sure any dog/cat door you have in your home is shut and locked at night.
Coyotes hunt at all times of day, but are most active at dawn, dusk and at nighttime. It is very rare for a coyote to attack a human or a dog on a leash being held by a human. So, always walk your dog on leash (6-foot or shorter), even if you’re just walking in your neighborhood or are in your backyard. Coyotes are FAST – they can run up to 40mph and can snatch-up your pup in record time. Even larger dogs are not immune to a coyote attack. Mix-up your walk times of day and routes. Do not establish a routine that coyotes can pick-up upon to stalk you. Carry a big stick and/or put rocks or golf balls in your pockets to use for protection. Coyotes will hide in tall grass and dense bushes, so avoid these natural elements and keep your dog from exploring these areas. Coyotes are also known to use their pups as “bait.” They lure unsuspecting dogs with the promise of a playmate. Yep, they are smart predators! ALL DOGS SHOULD BE BROUGHT INDOORS AT NIGHT.
IF YOU ENCOUNTER A COYOTE:
Draw yourself up to your full height and start yelling! Wave your arms and jump around. Throw rocks or golf balls at the coyote. Keep your dog close, but don’t bend over to pick him up (this will make you appear smaller). If these methods don’t cause the coyote to retreat, then, back away, slowly. If it’s a pack of coyotes, be particularly careful, make a lot of noise and back off from them. Never let a coyote get between you and your pet or child and never turn your back on one. Mace/pepper spray, bear spray, whistles, air horns, garden hose spray and rocks should all be capable of discouraging a coyote.
Coyotes are merely trying to survive and feed their young. They are living creatures that have rights to our planet, just as all other living creatures. We need to learn to peacefully coexist with them. The above measures can help ensure harmony.
Have YOU seen a coyote? Comment, below!