Call Of The Wild — In MY Neighborhood?

2016-01-05 (1)If you live anywhere close to a park, you are bound to see a coyote on a road now and then, usually in the early morning or very late afternoon, and you are bound to hear them howling now and then, and the howling could be occurring right on your street, under your window, at midnight! Coyotes howl for any number of reasons, including to communicate. Coyotes will often howl when they are distressed, for instance, when they’ve been chased by a dog, or if one (usually a youngster) has lost contact with a parent. I’ve heard one go on for 40 minutes. Of course they also howl in response to sirens, just to join the chorus!

Coyotes trek through their territory every day during the evening hours. Their territories include the vast areas around their park, including open spaces between houses. What they are doing is searching for hunting areas and marking their territories. Marking their territories is how they keep other coyotes out of their territories — their population density is thus kept stable and low. Coyotes need generally about a square mile of territory per coyote to survive.

Almost always, there is only one resident coyote family in any particular urban park in San Francisco — large parks like the Presidio or Golden Gate Park may have more than one. Based on my observations over the last 9 years, I would say that the number of individuals in these families ranges on average between two and five coyotes, and is constantly in flux, up and down between these numbers. The higher number reflects pups who have not yet dispersed. Pups disperse anywhere from one to three years of age.

Know that coyotes pose virtually no threat to humans unless they are hand-fed or unless a dog owner gets between his dog and a coyote, which could result in a bite or scratch to the dog owner. Coyotes want to avoid humans. On the other hand, pets pose problems in coyote areas. Nevertheless, it’s easy to avoid mishaps with pets by following some simple guidelines. Coexistence is what is going on throughout the country in urban areas because it is easy and it works. Coexistence is about educating the public about what coyote behaviors they should be aware of, and giving simple guidelines to help it work.

Keep your beloved pets indoors at night and don’t allow them to roam free. Don’t leave any type of food out which might encourage a coyote to linger rather than just trek on. When in the park, please leash up if you see a coyote and walk away from it — and don’t allow your pet to chase coyotes. Remember that pupping season is coming up, and whether or not you’ll have pups in your specific park, coyotes become more protective of their space during this time if they are intruded upon by a dog. Please watch the all-in-one video presentation, “Coyotes As Neighbors” which can be found at the top of the Coyotecoexistence.com website page. If you have any questions, please contact me, Janet, or any of the folks at CCC at coyotecoexistence@gmail.com. Someone there will try to help with any concerns you have.

Predator-Safe Dog Run

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Laurel loves her dogs, and she loves our urban wildlife, including the coyotes. She knows that raccoons and coyotes go a-trekking in the evenings, and sometimes even during daylight hours. “A predator-proof enclosure allows the family dogs safe, secure, anytime outdoor access between naps on the couch and outings to the dog park”. But the dog run was not predator-proof initially. She changed that so that now it is. Laurel is dedicated to saving dogs, raccoons and coyotes, and her creative solution is depicted in this photo.

It was after seeing a coyote trot through her front yard one evening, and reading reports of aggressive raccoons, that this San Francisco resident wanted to ensure the safety of the family’s three dogs. The pet door goes out to a ramp that leads into the dog run, which is now totally secure on the top and sides. “Our dogs are a part of the family and it gives us peace of mind for potty breaks even in the middle of the night”, reports Laurel. The dog-run’s most recent update is a black coating of paint, which actually makes it almost invisible when looking out of the solarium overlooking it.

An added benefit of this design is that two dogs who don’t get along can be let out at the same time because of the way it is partitioned. This helps with when a family member brings his/her antagonistic dog to visit while they go on a family trip. Laurel also walks dogs through her organization: Golden Gate Dog Walking, in San Francisco.

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Coyote Coexistence, by Laurel Rose

Coyote Coexistence2

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Siccing Your Dog On Coyotes Is NOT Cool

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Some unleashed dogs, through the negligence of their owners, run off chasing coyotes. If your dog has a tendency to get excited and wants to chase coyotes, you need to keep your dog leashed or walk in a different area. The problem is the repeat offenders: it appears to always be the same few unrestrained dogs who go chasing after coyotes because their owners refuse to leash them when coyotes are around.  But even worse are the dog owners who blatantly prompt their dogs to go after coyotes: I’ve seen this innumerable times, and I’ve heard stories from others who have recounted their observations of this dog-owner behavior. This is not cool. It might be entertaining and fun for the dog owner, but it is not so for the coyotes, nor for other folks in the park who have watched this happen. In fact, it’s illegal to harass the wildlife in San Francisco. Another variation of this human behavior is to leash their dog and then proceed to approach the coyote as close as possible.

Coexistence involves respecting the wildlife and not interfering with it. It involves keeping your distance to begin with. It means leashing and walking on, away from the coyote whenever you see one. It means advising other walkers with dogs if a coyote is out and where it is so that they can take the proper preventative precautions — it’s important to prevent all interactions by keeping these species as far apart as possible. It means understanding that a coyote might approach your dog for territorial reasons or, if your dog is very small, it might even grab your dog. These contingencies are easily avoided by keeping vigilant, by keeping your distance, and by walking on, away from the coyote. Coexistence also means knowing how to shoo one away if there is an encounter which is uncomfortably close or if a coyote approaches your dog. See the YouTube video, “How To Shoo Off A Coyote.”

Please don’t allow your dog to go after coyotes, and please let others know that doing so is not cool. In fact, it hurts everyone in the park when the coyotes are taught by this treatment that they must remain suspicious of dogs even if they are out in the distance. They are territorial and NEED to defend their space — and they are more likely to do so when provoked. To prevent inciting this instinct, we need to keep away from them. It’s not hard to do: I see folks constantly doing their part to make coexistence work. So please let’s all help those not in-the-loop to come into the loop by letting them know good/safe practices and why keeping our distance and moving on is so important.

 

Cars And Coyotes

 Now I know why I took it -- because I found it both sad and interesting and so beautiful. Looks like it could be sleeping.

“Now I know why I took this photo — because I found it both sad and interesting and so beautiful. Looks like it could be sleeping.” Meta Larsson

By far, the most common killer of urban coyotes is cars  — these amount to 40 to 70% of urban coyote deaths each year. Vehicles can be thought of as urban coyotes’ number one “predator”. This is not surprising because coyotes take long daily treks through vast urban landscapes which include an extensive grid of roadways.

In addition, a car may not kill right away, but instead may permanently maim and produce injuries which make life that much more difficult, ultimately shortening the coyote’s life.

A coyote’s full potential lifespan of about 14 years (they live this long in captivity) is usually reduced drastically to an average of around 3-5 years in the wild, though some individuals beat the odds and live a little longer.

Coyotes also die from malnutrition and diseases such as mange, and in rural areas, a huge number are shot for no reason at all except that they are coyotes. A coyote’s life is not easy.

By the way, cars are also a primary killer of pets: over 5.4 million cats are killed each year by cars and over 1.2 million dogs are killed each year by cars. Interestingly, dog bites to other pets are the third largest injury to pets — coyote injuries to pets is dwarfed by these statistics.

Coyote Splits, Lickety-split, Upon Seeing a Large Pack of Large Dogs Running Loose

Coyotes know that they don’t need to be afraid of everyone that comes to their parks — they simply keep their distance and continue whatever they were doing. If humans walk by in the distance with their leashed dogs, a coyote more often than not will continue its foraging, or may stop to observe as the dog and walker pass through. Distance is everyone’s friend, as is controlled calm.

However, danger is signaled to coyotes by individual or packs of unleashed dogs running about, as happened here. This coyote looked up from her peaceful foraging to see several large dogs running around wildly and exploring hither and thither, with no owner in sight initially. It was a signal for the coyote to head towards a safer area. Our coyotes are chased often by dogs. An individual dog which pursues them they can handle now and then even though they dislike it tremendously, but a large pack of large dogs is something they do not want to test.

The dogs did not see the coyote, but the walker did. He leashed up his seven charges as soon as he saw the coyote, and he walked on. The coyote sat, close to the bushes to where she could make a quick getaway if needed, but she didn’t need to. When the pack of dogs was out of sight, she simply lay down and took a nap!

leashing up the dog pack

leashing up the dog pack

“I Was Just In Their Way, In Their Path”, A Coyote Experience by Dorothy

2015-07-08I met Dorothy and her husband in a park walking their little white dog. They are in their 80s. They live right on the edge of one of our San Francisco parks: they love walking their dog, they love nature and they love the wildlife, including the coyotes.

Dorothy told me about her coyote encounter two days earlier. She doesn’t see them often so any encounter is a real treat for her, but this one was a little different.

She was out walking her little dog on the street at 7:00 in the morning, when her dog began barking uncontrollably. She turned around and saw a coyote. Oh, she thought it best to pick up the little dog, which she did. When she turned around again, there was a second coyote. Very exciting! By the time she had walked a few paced and looked back again, there were THREE coyotes! When she stopped and eyed them, they did not approach, but when she turned her back to them and walked on, they seemed to get closer.

She was a little concerned that they might be interested in her little pooch, so she decided to cross the street — creating this distance between herself and the coyotes seemed like a logical thing to do. Sure enough, the coyotes continued walking on the other side of the street, and then turned to go between two houses and into the park. “I was just in their way, in their path”, she told me.

Dorothy did the right thing. She picked up her small dog and moved away from the coyotes. A+!!

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