Problems with coyotes occur when they are looking for easy to obtain food. The wildlife rich neighborhoods of Cape Coral, Fort Myers, Boca Grande, St. James City and other communities throughout Southwest Florida, provide coyotes with lots of small game to hunt, however, if it is easier for them to kill and eat a pet cat or a small dog in an easy to access yard, this is likely the route they will take and the meal they will choose.
Home owner associations often call wanting coyotes trapped and killed. However, simply shooting them or laying out traps isn't likely to solve your problem. Common sense steps such as taking away access to the coyote's food source around your home (taking steps to eliminate rodents, keeping small wildlife away, and not feeding your pets outdoors) can go a long way toward preventing coyotes. Livestock guardians can be very helpful too.
Coyotes, wolves, foxes, bobcats and mountain lions are highly adaptable, curious, shy, non-confrontational, smart and opportunistic.
When you want to control coyotes, understanding the facts about them can be a very helpful tool, we've prepared some information for you on coyote family life and feeding habits to help you get started. There are a few articles about co-existing with coyotes that you might find helpful too, including "City Slickers" by the National Wildlife Federation.
Most problems with coyotes, foxes, wolves, bobcats and mountain lions occur when they are looking for easy to obtain food. You can try trapping and hunting to get rid of coyotes, but this won't likely solve your problem, if you continue to feed them, more will just move in to take their place.
Another problem with trapping - placing foothold traps and snares around your property and in your neighborhood endangers children and pets.
Homeowner's Associations often ask us to trap and kill coyotes, until we let them know about the dangers and how the residents can help by simply improving the habits they employ around their home.
Think about it, should the HOA be responsible financially for the member homeowner's behavior that is attracting them in the first place?
Coyotes live all over in rural and urban areas and can be seen strolling down just about any given Main Street across the United States at any given time. Just because you see one outdoors during daylight hours doesn't mean that it is rabid and is wanting to gobble up your pets and children. Humans offer food such as pet food, bird feeders providing birds to eat and the rodents to attract. A coyote's diet consists of mainly rats, mice and other small nuisance wildlife. Attract the food source, you attract the coyote. Almost every caller says "It looks so scrawny and skinny, I am afraid it is sick or rabid" whereas 95% of the time, they are actually well-nourished - dining plentifully on rodents in the area.
So, if you want to cut back on the number of coyotes coming around your home and the dangers they bring with them, take away their food source.
Stop feeding your pets outside. Instead, feed pets indoors or re-train them to eat all their food in 5 minutes. You can do this simply by removing their food dish after 5 minutes, after a few times they will understand that they need to eat it "now" or not be able to eat it at all. Most coyote, fox and other wildlife encounters with pets (and the injured pets that go with them) occur when the pet gets between the wildlife and the food dish.
Stop feeding birds outdoors. Bird feeders can't help but attract mice, rats, skunks, raccoons, opossums, squirrels, and birds, and the animals that come in to eat them - foxes, coyotes, mountain lions and bobcats.
If you are going to have chickens, consider how you are going to house them. Yes, it is nice to allow chickens to eat free range and roam all over the yard. It may seem easier to pay a trapper to trap the coyote, fox or lion taking your chickens, but for the several hundred dollars he will charge, you can construct a wildlife-proof chicken coop. If you leave chickens out at night or during the day, eventually you will lose them to a predator. You can pay a coyote trapper to kill every auto-replenishing coyote that comes along, or, we can construct a wildlife-proof coop for you.
To summarize, here is a list of things you can do on your own to help get rid of coyotes around your house ...
- Do not directly or indirectly feed coyotes.
- Avoid feeding pets outside.
- Do not leave pets outside unattended - even inside a fence.
- Do not feed squirrels, birds or any other wildlife.
- Avoid attracting rodents. Trash containers, compost piles and bird feeders can all attract rats and mice, which then in turn attract snakes. Coyotes eat both rodents and snakes. You can reduce coyote problems by eliminating temptations within their food chain.
- Coyotes are opportunistic, do not attract coyotes close to your home by tempting them with food or even the pets themselves. Keep your pets on a leash when outside and coyote proof your yard thoroughly.
- If you have chickens or other poultry, be ready for flying feathers if your chickens are free-range or their coop is not wildlife proof.
- Employ the services of a livestock guardian.
It is true that coyote, wolf, bobcat and mountain lion control can be accomplished by placing a sharp shooter on your property 365 days a year. You can also hire a trapper to come back over and over again repeatedly, you can even erect hundreds of feet of tall dig proof fencing around your property, or you can go the easier route and simply get a livestock "guardian" such as a Great Pyrenees dog, llama or donkey.
If you think that putting a pygmy or full size donkey on your property to protect against coyotes, wolves, bobcats and mountain lions killing your chickens or livestock is funny, we don't blame you for laughing; but once you have seen that super-territorial donkey kick the living tar out of an intruding coyote with its hooves and fight until the coyote leaves, kills the coyote, wolf, bobcat or mountain lion or loses its life protecting your property, you'll stop laughing and see the value in guard animals.
Coyotes, wolves, feral dogs and mountain lions can and do attack and feed on poultry, sheep, or cattle. The Wildlife Whisperer advocates using guard animals and has often had donkeys from an equine rescue or different ranch placed in pastures to eliminate coyote depredation problems. We strongly suggest that you read a helpful book written by Jan Dohner, Livestock Guardians for more information on the subject.
But not all guard animals are proficient at their jobs. Wildlife Whisperer Ned Bruha says "Guard animals are similar to bank security guards. Some of them do their job quite well and keep the riff raff out whereas some others only want to eat doughnuts and hide when intruders enter the property. If you have a particularly lazy bank guard laying down on the job of protecting your property, there is likely a reason for it. Fire that donkey, dog or llama, move it to a different pasture by itself and employ a different one. It's a tough economy, and there are plenty of other animals out there that would appreciate the job and opportunity".
Barriers can often be helpful against coyotes, although they have been known to climb fences. A solid six foot wood slat fence equipped with a coyote roller system on top is a good minimum standard to follow.
You can learn more about barriers and containment systems on our farm and pet safety page, including underground barriers such as Dig Defence, that prevent coyotes from getting in by digging under fences.
What To Do When Confronted By A Coyote
Coyotes aren't looking for confrontation - they are naturally shy and non-confrontational, but there are some things you can do when confronted by one, or you feel you might be in danger.
Since they are shy by nature, making loud noises can often do the trick. Pots, pans, whistles, waving your arms frantically in the air, yelling at them, opening and closing an umbrella towards them, garden hoses, sprinklers and soda cans filled with coins being shaken loudly all will scare off these animals if you simply try them. Scaring a coyote away from you, your neighborhood or yard, is a coyote control method known as "hazing".
Here are some additional things you can do:
Knowing ahead of time that if you, your child, or pet, is under attack by a coyote, you will have to decide whose life is more important - and act accordingly, and rationally. Be prepared, and ready to respond quickly.
- Coyotes hunt more often at dusk and dawn than any other time, so pay extra close attention to your surroundings during those hours, but be watchful for them at all times just the same.
- Walk in small groups and keep children in the middle of the group.
- If walking a pet, keep it leashed, and keep a tight grip on the leash.
- Carry an umbrella so you can open it to potentially scare them off.
- Carry a flasher, flashlight, loud alarm or noisemaker (such as a marine horn), or a gun if legally able. Wave your arms and make noise to frighten them away. If standing still, make noise.
Recently, a Texas Governor shot a coyote that allegedly threatened his daughter's dog while they were out jogging and they named a model of a popular conceal and carry weapon after him. Article
1242 SW Pine Island Rd., Suite 310
Cape Coral, Florida 33991-2126