“Lick Your Chops!”

2015-07-14

A fellow recently told me that what was upsetting him and some of the other dog walkers in one of the parks, was that coyotes were ignoring their yelling and arm flinging — the coyotes were simply not responding to human efforts to get them to move: they just stood there and watched. I told this to my husband who laughed and said, “Tell him to lick his chops.”

Although tongue-in-cheek, it really is relevant. You can’t just throw a tantrum. You can’t just flail your arms and yell at a coyote who is trying to message a dog to keep away. Coyotes become habituated to this treatment by humans and, over time, will ignore it. After all, it isn’t something that actually hurts them.

Instead, you have to actually approach them. Do so by eyeballing them, eye-to-eye, so that they know you are targeting them, and do so menacingly as you yell “SCRAM” — you want them to know you are out to get them. It’s the *approaching* which matters the most and lets them know that you mean business — that you are not just bluffing. So go after them like you mean it, “licking your chops!”

There is ONE CAVEAT which you NEED to be aware of: A coyote will put its life at risk to protect pups and a den area. IF a coyote absolutely doesn’t move, it’s best for you to move on rather than provoke an incident. If the coyote does not respond to your charging at it, make sure your dog is leashed and walk away from the coyote and out of the area — do not run.

I’ve already pointed out that “harassing” a coyote by “making noise”, “flailing your arms” and “looking big” — is not a fail-safe technique to make them move out of your path. After a time, it does not work because coyotes get used to it — habituated to it — and think it’s just a very quirky human behavior. They know you mean nothing by it because there are no adverse consequences for them caused by your yelling or flailing your arms.

However, actually approaching forces them to move away from you, and doing so menacingly while making eye-contact is something they understand. Since they do not want you to get close — they will move. You could speed the process up by adding noise, such as clapping and yelling, or by tossing a small pebble towards the coyote (not at him so as to injure him). Again, this works unless there are pups around.

So, “lick your chops” and act as if you’re out to get them if you have a need to move a coyote away from your dog or out of your path. Please see the demo of this in “Coyotes As Neighbors”, a slide/video presentation on coexisting with urban coyotes.

She Watches Dogs Pass By Who in the Past Have Chased Her

noticing approaching dogs


to bark or not to bark — it’s a hard decision (video)


observing them carefully


happily, there’s no antagonistic activity this time; ho, hum


going, going, they’re GONE! — without incident!

This gal was in a field hunting when some late visitors to her park arrived with their dogs. Some of the dogs were leashed and some were not. Most unleashed dogs chase after coyotes, though some do not — they did not this time. Some of the dogs have chased her in the past and she remembers each and every chase and chaser. She waited, anticipating the worst, but it didn’t happen this time. On this day, coexistence worked really well here in San Francisco.

Pupping Season: “Scary” Does Not Translate Into “Dangerous”, but Heed The Message!

2015-05-31 (1)

Hi Janet —

I had a very scary interaction with two coyotes in the heart of a park where the trail runs parallel to a dense brushy area. My dog Ginger and I were by ourselves, surrounded by two coyotes that would not go away. I jumped up and down, waving my arms allover the place and yelling and they didn’t budge. Finally one went into the bush but just stayed there and then the other on the trail started towards us.

I did the jumping yelling thing and the one backed away but turned around, started walking towards us again. Like 15 feet away.  Finally I just pulled Ginger’s leash tight to me and ran. I know you’re not supposed to  do that, but nothing else was working. We ran up to a knoll and were not followed there. It was getting dark, past 8pm, a bit scary indeed!

I wish that man was not doing that thing with his dog, challenging the coyote, corralling his dog to go after the coyotes. I have a feeling that sort of human behavior is a bad influence and perhaps contributed to this situation I had.

Scott


Hi Scott —

I’m sorry about your negative experience with the coyotes — and especially that it happened to you, a coyote sympathizer, even though it is best that it happened to you and not someone else with no feeling for the coyotes. In fact, you were being messaged to keep away from a den area.

Coyote messaging can be very, very scary — it’s got to be to be effective, otherwise dogs and people would just ignore the message. The coyotes  you encountered were not pursuing you and they were not out to hurt you or Ginger — they were keeping you from getting closer to something important. You were simply being told not to get any closer — to move away: “Go Away!”  But next time don’t run! Sometimes running will incite them to chase after you!

If and when a coyote doesn’t back up, it’s almost always because of a den, and it’s always best to shorten your leash and leave right away. If coyotes don’t move after one or two attempts to get them to move, this should be the protocol: leave the area. You don’t want to engage with a den-defending coyote because they will nip at a dog who cannot read their “standing guard” message — we already know that this is what they do, and by not listening to their simple message, you would actually be provoking an incident.

It’s an instinct, and really has nothing to do with the idiot who was attempting to force his dog on the coyotes. That is a totally unrelated issue which needs to be addressed.

Encountering a den-defending coyote always creates a lot of fear in people, and I understand why — it’s meant to.  People need to know about it, why it happens, and how to deal with it. It’s a situation which should always be walked away from, no different from what you would do if you saw a skunk with its tail raised, a dog warning you off, or a swarm of bees. We know how to read the messages from these animals, and we usually abide by the messages to keep the peace and not get stung or sprayed or bitten. We can do the same with coyotes. A defensive or protective coyote is only doing his job — such an encounter in no way means the animal is aggressive.

Janet

Roadkill Reports of Coyotes, by Fraser Shilling

Since 2009 hundreds of volunteer observers with the California Roadkill Observation System (CROS,http://wildlifecrossing.net/california) have reported almost 31,000 roadkilled animals on our roads and highways, representing 400 species of reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. Their effort has made CROS the largest system like it in the world. For certain mobile and easily recognized species, like coyotes, we can map occurrences of dead animals and start to figure out where they are getting hit most often and possibly why.

The map of roadkill coyote [to the left] is for 134 reported coyote carcasses, out of 723 reported for the whole state between 9/2009 and 4/2015. The # reported does not represent ALL occasions when coyotes were killed by cars, just a sample. Although we can’t say for sure yet, it looks like highways 101, 280, 680/84, 80, and 37 have stretches where more coyotes are hit. Please join the hundreds of CROS volunteers monitoring our roads and highways for roadkill to help protect drivers and wildlife from colliding. Feel free to contact CROS lead Fraser Shilling, just internet search him for his contact info.

Ring of death around urban centers [click on maps to enlarge for better viewing]

Being Stared At Causes Coyote To Skedaddle

2014-04-29

Coyotes often flee if they are stared at for too long. It makes them very uncomfortable. In the wild, a stranger staring at you might mean you’re about to be pursued and headed to become chow.

In this case I watched a man become enchanted with a coyote. He stopped and watched the coyote for what a coyote might consider an interminable long time. The coyote, on first being spotted, ran down a hill, but then kept an eye on the stranger from a rock he had found in a field. I could hear the coyote thinking, “Yep, the stranger is much too focused on me and there must be a reason.” Instead of waiting to find out, he skedaddled away with hind paws and tail flying.

Joyce White Organizes a Coyote Coexistence Meeting in Los Angeles

2015-04-21

Hi. My name is Corky, the friendly coyote. Can we all get along?”

Hi Janet,

It was hugely successful with the President of our 10th District here in Los Angeles named Herb Wesson!  He was overwhelmed and stunned by the turn-out there which was OVER 130 people!  Said he’s never been to a neighborhood gathering like mine with those many folks attending, EVER!  (Smile).. Actually, I was counting on more than the 130 since I had told so many people about it and many of them, did not show. Had they come out, it would have been over 200!!

I named my furry friend “CORKY” and put him on a little stand with a little note saying, “Hi . I’m CORKY, the friendly Coyote. Can we all get along?  The neighbors loved it and the speaker from The Los Angeles County Urban Wildlife Assn. thought it was AWESOME, especially all the literature I had on the table!  Almost ALL of it was gone at the end of the meeting.  He talked about how to prevent them from being aggressive and how one should take a straight back, upward posture when confronted by a coyote. His presentation was interesting but our literature was THE BOMB!!

Lots of questions were asked and answered with the information you sent, especially the shooing away of the coyote..  Everyone was glad they attended and thought it went very well.  A good time was had by all and they loved all the donated food by local restaurants and MY SPECIAL HUGE PAN of spaghetti!..Thank You so much for the fliers and I will continue to pass them out where I can and where needed.. Love, Joyce

Friendly Coyote-Dog Contact

Recently I observed actual contact — friendly contact — between a young insatiably curious coyote and a dog in one of our parks. A fairly small unleashed dog headed to the bushes where a squirrel was jumping around. The coyote has had his eye on this particular squirrel and the bushes it lives in for a long time, so I’m sure the coyote claimed them as his own. I don’t know if the coyote approached the area initially for the squirrel, as the dog had, or if it was another instance of the coyote’s keen interest in particular dogs.

The coyote reached the dog — the dog owner was not within view. The dog neither ran off in fear, nor showed any antagonism whatsoever towards the coyote. Rather, the dog stood totally still with its ears back and allowed the coyote to sniff from behind. Coyotes approach animals always, if possible, from behind, where there are no teeth! When the dog turned it’s head to look at the coyote — facing the coyote — the coyote’s hackles went up high and it flinched in preparation to flee.  But the dog again looked away, so the coyote continued sniffing and investigating the not-unfriendly dog.

No tails were wagging, so it was not necessarily a “happy” moment. It was more of a “discovery” moment, with neither canine nor canid knowing what to expect from the other, yet each sensed something other than hostility or antagonism from the other. Each animal was allowing an unknown stranger — therefore possible danger — into its personal space. Neither animal was trusting nor overwhelmingly apprehensive, but their mutual hesitant behavior showed that they each had inklings of both. They touched one another briefly and then it was time to go. Both of these canines are full-grown youngsters, about 18 months of age. The coyote is a young male, the dog is a fixed female.

At this point the owner appeared and we discussed that leashing was a good idea in the area.  Since we don’t want to encourage interactions between pets and wildlife in an effort to keep the wildlife wild, we’re suggesting dogs always be kept away from coyotes: coexistence works best when minimum boundaries of 30-50 feet are maintained with people. These boundaries should be increased to minimum 100 feet when dogs are involved.

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