Coming around the corner I see a large , gray coyote staring at me from the corner of my client’s yard. He is a ways away but he held his gaze too long for my comfort. I lived with coyotes on my farm in NY for over a decade and am used to the sort that bolt upon spotting a human. This one does not. He considers his options before turning and trotting casually away.
I went back around the corner for a moment and when I returned, he was half way up the large yard headed toward my location. This time left with a bit more speed but hardly with “concern”.
This is the third such sighting in this upscale St Louis, MO area I’ve heard of this week. A fact that that inspired this blog on how to keep coyotes out of your yard.
First, I love wildlife. People offered to hunt the coyote off my farm for years and were always turned down. Coyote were there first and posed no threat to me, my dogs or my livestock (as long as the electric fencing was charged). For their part, they steered clear of me. I rarely saw them, but often heard them, in the 14 years we shared acreage.
But a bold coyote is another matter. Living in close proximity with humans slowly removes their fear of us. And a coyote without fear makes me fearful. Bold coyotes make easy meals of pets (and not just small ones) and, very rarely, try for a toddler.
Here are four ways to discourage coyotes:
Protect your pets
Cats and dogs (almost all sizes and ages) can be taken quickly. While cats, smaller dogs and pups are the easiest predator pickings, if you have a more than one coyote, attack on larger dogs is not unheard of. Install motion-sensor floodlights and go out at night with your dogs. Carry a serious flashlight and some deterrent spray. Consider a loud whistle or airhorn as well (depending on how freaked out your dog would be by those things). Keep dogs on a short leash as dogs have been killed while on retractables.
Prune for a view
Prune underbrush around your property so you can see under bushes where coyote may be resting and watching. The fewer hiding places, the better.
Lead them not into temptation
Do not leave pet food outside, keep trash contained (or use a pest-proof trashcan strap), maintain a meat-free compost pile, don’t give your dog edible chews or raw food outside, remove junk for your yard, keep bird suet well out of reach. Give coyote no reason to stop by your home.
I know, this one is hard for all of us who love animals but if you love coyote, the kindest thing you can do is scare them when you see them. The more fearful they are of people, the safer they are. Even if you have large dogs and older children, help keep the wild in wildlife. Clap, shout, bang – make noise. If they run, you’ve done well.
I hope you never need these hints on how to keep coyote out of your yard but as people and wildlife share the same neighborhoods, this is probably going to be a growing issue for us all.