It’s Not A Good Idea To Let Your Dog “Play” With Coyotes

It is best not to let dogs play with coyotes. At Bernal Heights (a neighborhood in San Francisco) about 9 years ago there was a single little female coyote who had chosen ONE of the dogs to frolic with: the coyote and the dog learned to know what to expect from each other and they acted accordingly. This was a lone coyote — a youngster who craved company and would allow herself several minutes of such play every day before disappearing into the bushes. This behavior became a daily occurrence over several weeks. The activity was considered “sweet” and “benign” by some of the onlookers. But, in fact, it broke down barriers that serve to protect both wildlife and dogs.

Dogs and coyotes almost universally do not like each other. This is because of territorial concerns. Coyotes do not allow non-family coyotes into their territories except for passing-through. In the recent videos I saw of dog/coyote interactions at Pine Lake, there was chasing of a coyote by a dog and then vice-versa. The dog owner should not allow his/her dog to chase coyotes. This was not play. The coyotes were assessing what the dog could do by playing a game of oneupmanship which, at this point, seemed, indeed, to border on play. The coyotes were figuring out where in their hierarchy the dog might fit. But the apparent “play” could quickly deteriorate into a situation which could be dangerous for the dog involved, and for other dogs who are around, AND for the coyote. The instinct of the coyote is to defend itself and not let other animals close to itself. A larger dog could easily maim a coyote — they do it all the time where there is coyote penning — and a small dog can easily be given the same treatment as any other animal of prey — no different from a skunk or squirrel or raccoon. And the coyote could message the dog with a nip to the haunches to get it to leave it alone, as seen in the photos here.

In addition, once a coyote becomes accustomed to intermingling with dogs — and therefore people — you are setting up a situation that has the potential for the coyote to approach people. In fact, coyotes and dogs have bitten people trying to break up a fight. Once a coyote has bitten a person, his fate is the death chamber. Here, again, there is a problem, because it’s hard to find the “right” coyote, so often a number of coyotes will be eliminated to insure that “the culprit” is caught. But of course, it wasn’t the coyote’s fault, it was the human’s fault who allowed a situation to occur in the first place.

So, please keep your dogs leashed if they like going after coyotes. It is the dog owner’s responsibility to do so. If a coyote approaches dogs, it is the responsibility of the dog owners to shoo it off. Please watch the demonstration of how to do this on the YouTube video, “Coyotes As Neighbors”: https://youtu.be/euG7R11aXq0.

These photos show a dog chasing a coyote — then the coyote chases back and he’s actually in “nipping” mode — coyotes do not like to be chased 

(originally posted for the Stern Grove Dog Owner’s Group)

Distressed Barking By Mother Coyote Due to Presence of Dogs

Parent coyotes are especially edgy at this time of year — it’s pupping season.

As this mother coyote foraged behind some low bushes, dog owners with their mostly leashed dogs walked by on a path about 100 feet away: they stopped and looked at her, though it might have been better if they had just walked on. None of the dogs approached her, though they might have communicated some kind of negativity through their facial expressions and body language. The coyote apparently didn’t like them looking at her, or she didn’t like their negative communication. OR, the dogs may simply have been too close for comfort.  I was concentrating on her, so I couldn’t see what the issue was.

Note that she begins her complaining with little grunts and heaves: it’s an emotional and distressed reaction.  As she initially grunts and heaves, she hasn’t decided to go all out with her barking. But soon, she lets loose. All the dog walkers “got it” once I explained to them what was going on: that this was an edgy mother and coyotes don’t like dogs around them. The walkers and their dogs moved on, and she soon quit her howling and then retreated into the bushes.

Her own mother, too, engaged in this exact same type of barking: it is a distressful bark and only occurs when these coyotes feel harassed or intruded upon by dogs. This type of barking is both a complaining — letting everyone know how she feels — and a communication of standing up for herself, though you can be sure that if a dog went after her, she would skedaddle quickly. The barking session shown here lasted only about three minutes, but I’ve listened to one that lasted well over 20 minutes.

Their Best Kept Secret Is Out!

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This article was published in Bay Nature’s online Nature News in order to reach more people with the information that might help folks understand and deal with an inadvertent and unexpected coyote encounter during pupping season which is now.

To read the article, either press the image, or this link here: https://baynature.org/articles/how-to-get-along-with-coyotes-as-pups-venture-out/

“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.

[And take a look at a very informative and interesting comment to this post by Charles Wood by clicking “comments” under the date of the posting]

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!

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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]

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