Coexisting With Wildlife: How to Keep Pets Safe From Coyotes
Whether it was a long howl at dusk or a chance encounter at the park, most people have experienced the call of the wild at some point when it comes to coyotes. Like many species, coyotes have adapted to coexist with humans—this includes rural areas and major urban hubs like Chicago.
That’s why The Pet Experts at Naperville Animal Hospital are here to offer some ideas on how to keep your pets safe from coyotes, ever fascinating, but wild canines.
Coyote Behavior 101
Canis latrans (“barking dog”) has been something of a legend, including being maligned by ranchers, farmers, hunters, and others for a long time.
Coyotes, like dogs and foxes, are members of the canid family and enjoy feasting on a wide variety of foods, including small mammals and trash. They can be found throughout North America, as well as many other parts of the world. Because of their propensity to thrive wherever, the risk to pets has increased.
Because of coyotes’ flexibility in diet, they have been known to hunt cats and small dogs—with the rare exception being larger dogs. Although it’s commonly thought that they hunt in packs, coyotes tend to be solitary hunters, and in populated areas, they will typically hunt after dark.
It’s very rare for a coyote to attack a human. In most cases, when pets are killed by coyotes, this is because the pet was either allowed outside unsupervised or was free-roaming (as with outdoor cats). Coyotes may also be curious when they see a person out walking a small dog, but again, they’re not likely to attack a pet when he or she is with a person.
Aside from the dangers of attack, coyotes are carriers of several illnesses that can harm pets and people. This includes rabies, which is another reason it’s so important to protect yourself and your pet from any wild species.
Simple Steps to Keep Pets Safe From Coyotes
Because most encounters occur when a pet is alone outdoors or outside the protection of an owner, the most effective way to protect your pet is to maintain supervision at all times (and keep on a leash when out walking).
Wildlife-proof fencing, or perimeter fencing, may also be worth considering if your pet spends a lot of time in the yard, especially in areas where coyotes have been spotted.
If you encounter a coyote:
- Ensure your pet stays by your side, on a leash, or in your arms.
- Maintain sight of the coyote while walking away. Do not run.
- If the coyote follows, wave your arm, clap, or use a stern voice—and make yourself appear bigger by using a coat or bag.
- Get your pet to a safe, enclosed space right away—either at the nearest neighbor’s home or in your car.
If the coyote continues to stay in the area or appears aggressive, contact local animal control.
With general awareness and by maintaining control over your pet when outdoors, coyote encounters are rare. Because of the increased risk for outdoor pets, bringing your pet indoors is not only good sense, it also decreases the chance of other wildlife encounters, car accidents, and contact with contagious illnesses.
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