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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Coyotes and your pets

It is getting wild out there... and I mean wild ! I live in Northern Illinois and the coyote population here seems to have grown considerably. I hear awful stories almost every day from areas in Northern Illinois all the way into downtown Chicago of coyotes grabbing up someone's pet.

It also happened very close to home to me. My parents lost their miniature dachshund last year to a coyote and my mom is still heartbroken over it. They seem to be getting bolder and less afraid of us "humans".

It can be difficult to accept, but pets can be seen as a food source to coyotes and large dogs can be seen as a threat or possible mate.  Coyotes have taken pets from backyards, open spaces and even right off the leash.  Keep your pet current on vaccinations.  Reduce the risk to your pet by following these guidelines:

Cat Owners:
The only way to guarantee your cat's safety is to keep it indoors.  Outdoor cats also face potential death from cars, diseases, foxes, parasites, raccoons, dogs and birds of prey such as owls.

Dog Owners:

  • Keep your dog on a short leash - avoid retractable leashes.
  • Do not allow your dog to play or interact with a coyote.
  • If possible, pick up your dog when coyotes are visible. 
  • Avoid known or potential den sites and thick vegetation. 
  • Like domestic dogs, coyotes will defend their territory and their young. 
  • If you must leave your dog outside, secure it in a fully enclosed kennel.

Be Prepared:
If you have concerns about encountering a coyote, you may want to keep a deterrent handy.  Deterrents can include rocks, pots and pans, vinegar in a water gun, paintballs, air horns or a repellent spray.  Contact local authorities to ensure that you are using a legal method.

Do what you can to discourage a coyote's approach:
  • Be as big and loud as possible. 
  • Wave your arms, clap and throw objects at the coyote. 
  • Shout in a loud and authoritative voice. 
  • Do not run or turn your back on the coyote. 
  • Face the coyote and back away slowly.

When are Coyotes most active?
Coyotes can be active at any time, day or night, but are especially active at dawn and dusk.  Conflicts with pets occur year-round and are more likely to occur during the breeding season (February and March).  Because young are born in the spring, food requirements of the nursing females and growing young remain high until late summer.  As people and their pets spend more time outdoors during this time, the possibility of a coyote encounter increases.

Just please be aware that coyotes have grown in population and are now moving into the suburban and city areas. 

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