Coyote Questions

Coyote!

A few words from Lauren Greene, past program manager.

Late on a Sunday night, you are out walking your dachshund when you hear this barking, yipping, howling ruckus in the distance.  “A couple of coyotes chatting,” you comment to your dog.  As you walk, you notice one of your neighbors has put their trash, including loosely tied bags, on the curb already.  You wonder what kind of mess there will be in the morning from coyotes, raccoons or other animals digging out a snack.  Your walk stops long enough for your dog to poop and you dutifully clean it up. 

As your walk continues, you spot a coyote trotting out of a carport a few houses down. “They must have left out the cat bowl with food again,” you tell your dog.  “Lucky coyote to find such an easy dinner.  I hope they at least brought the cat inside.  An unsuspecting house cat is easier to catch than a rabbit or rat.”  You keep a wary eye on the coyote to make sure he does not come too close or think too hard about turning your dachshund into dinner. As you turn the corner, you and the coyote are startled to find each other only a yard apart.  As you wave your arms around you yell, “Go on now! Get out of here!”  The coyote looks at you before running back behind the house out of your view.

Your dog sees a rabbit before you do and strains at the end of the leash wanting to chase it.  Deciding you have had enough close encounters with wildlife for one night, you turn back towards home.  Trash is strewn in your neighbors’ yard and a coyote is happily feasting on leftovers.  “And people wonder why they are seeing and hearing coyotes so ofte,” you mutter to yourself.  “It is easy to become a nuisance when you are invited to do so.”  The coyote is too involved in gorging itself to even bother more than a glance as you walk by carrying your dachshund.  You gently set your dog down as you walk into your yard.  As you head into your house for the night, you reflect on how lucky you feel to have so much wildlife so close in such a populated area as Dunwoody. 

The moral of the story:

  • Secure all trash in wildlife proof containers.
  • Leave pet food outside only long enough (20 minutes) for your pets to eat it.
  • Do not leave small pets (cats and dogs) outside unattended, especially at night. 
  • Make loud noises to scare off coyotes who are getting too close for comfort. 
  • If you see a bold or aggressive coyote, contact your regional Game Management office (see www.georgiawildlife.com for a list of regional offices).  If the coyote runs off or stays a good distance from you, you do not need to contact anyone (except maybe your neighbor so they have the opportunity to see the coyote too).
  • Coyotes do not eat people. Coyote attacks are very rare.  In fact, coyotes have never attacked a human, including children, in Georgia. You are far more likely to be bitten by your family dog than by a coyote. 
  • Teach your children to never approach or touch wild animals or dogs without an owner’s permission.  A coyote can look like a lost dog to a child (or adult).
  • Coyotes howl, bark and yip to communicate to each other.  They say many of the same things we do – “Hi! Good to see you!”, “Get out of my yard!”, “You’re cute!”
  • Coyotes are nocturnal, but they are becoming more active during the day in urban areas.
  • Coyotes are opportunists and will eat anything they can catch or find from rodents to insects to rabbits to fruit.  Humans are great food source for them – pet food left outdoors or in garages, unsecured garbage cans and unattended small pets.  A bowl of dog food sitting on a deck is much easier to catch than a rabbit. 
  • Coyotes that are habituated to humans and see us as a food source will more likely get close enough for someone or some pet to get hurt.
  • January & February are mating season for coyotes, so you are more likely to see or hear them then.

Personally I think it is amazing that, with all the development and the shrinking wildlife habitat, we are lucky to have such an abundance of wildlife still in Dunwoody.  Growing up here, I never thought I would get to hear the howls and yips of coyotes in the “wilds” of Dunwoody.

If you would like to learn more about coyotes visit:

http://www.enature.com/fieldguides/detail.asp?recnum=MA0018

http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/coyote.htm

http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/mammals/dog/Coyoteprintout.shtml

http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Rapids/9805/coyoteden.html