Aggressive coyotes are an increasing issue in urban environments. We get calls consistently from frustrated people who aren’t getting the help they need. Here is my response to a recent complaint, and I figured it could help others. Here was the complaint:
“Thank you but I’ve read all the co-existing with coyotes material and my dog has been attacked within 20 feet of me twice in the last week. The coyotes are out of control in this area and myself and many of the neighbours have had enough. The coyotes are not scared of humans any longer….. you can drive up beside them on a tractor and they just lay there.
I NEVER let my dog out by herself and it’s not at the point where I can’t even take her outside and have her be 20 feet away from me. When the coyotes aren’t scared of people, there is no living with them.
If you have any suggestions on how to deal with the coyote issues, I’m all ears….. any suggestions about keeping my dog on a leash etc., are not options.”
Tips for dealing with aggressive coyotes
I’m sorry to hear about your struggles with the local coyotes. Unfortunately, this is an increasingly common problem in the Lower Mainland, and throughout North America for that matter. Coyotes are extremely capable generalists with no real predators besides humans – when we choose to be such. Urban coyote populations are increasing, and in my opinion – behaviorally – they should almost be considered a sub-species. These coyotes carve out a niche in a neighbourhood and due to a lack of cohesive management strategies/public awareness, they are allowed to push ‘social’ boundaries without any repercussion. This is how you get coyotes that aren’t afraid of people and pets and take liberties such as you have experienced.
The reality is that coyote populations are likely going to continue to climb and human behaviour is not quick to change. Considering this, we can assume that if we target and remove that individual coyote, another one with similar education is likely to move in. The best-case scenario is to focus on our behaviour and try to alter the behaviour of the coyotes we are having problems with.
Here are some things that come to mind:
Help from your municipality
As far as I know, your local government will step in, but only under rare and extreme circumstances. When a coyote (or pack) causes enough trouble in a neighbourhood and generates enough complaints, sometimes conservation officers are called in to remove them. However, what this really means is they post up in the neighbourhood, and often shoot the first coyote they see – unless it has specific identifiers which have been effectively communicated. You are unlikely to get this result without a big headache, if at all. Additionally, it is not targeted, relatively unsafe, and doesn’t address the root problem.
Help from us
If a specific coyote(s) are consistently exhibiting aggressive behaviour on your private property (or someone else’s who will give permission) we can possibly identify the individual, target it with humane live traps, and relocate it outside of city limits to either release or euthanize – depending on the seriousness of its behavior. This is an involved process, and not cheap. It consists of an initial baiting/monitoring program to identify all of the individuals in the area, as well as any potential by-catch, and only once we are sure of our target and the safety of other species, people, and pets, do we initiate the control phase.
We could also potentially offer hazing services. However, we are again limited by property boundaries, and this is also an involved service that only really works with a consistent, sustained effort.
These methods work, and we have experience operating in high-profile urban areas. However, they do typically require the cooperation of the local municipality, as well as their budget…
What you can do
I have been dealing with coyotes for a long time. I’ve done everything from dangerous coyote removal in both rural and urban environments, large-scale hazing programs, to live-trapping and collaring coyotes for various studies. Even when I’m literally wrestling them I rely on one truth: if you assert yourself, they will respect you as the dominant species. If you want coyotes to leave you alone, show them you’re not a target.
- Don’t shy away from them, walk/run towards them
- Shout, clap, throw rocks/sticks, open and close your umbrella (every animal hates umbrellas)
- Maybe consider carrying dog spray
- A cap gun is worth a try
Coyotes are smart enough to identify you as an individual which shouldn’t be tested, so you can get a result this way. However, a better idea would be to rally your neighbourhood to condition the coyotes with you. If everyone they run into starts treating them aggressively, they will change their behaviour… simple as that.
Even better would be to really put the pressure on your municipality. For the most part, most of the money/effort is put into fielding calls and plotting data, and any action taken is limited to the conservation officer scenario mentioned above. There are strategies that can be applied at the municipal/regional level that – combined with effective public awareness – can have meaningful, systemic impacts on human/predator relationships.
I hope some of this is helpful to you. I really do feel for your situation – we get calls all the time from people in your exact situation. There really isn’t enough being done. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need some help.
Joe Abercrombie – The Sustainabler