Coyotes in our Neighborhood

There have been several reports of coyotes in our neighborhood and the UPCC has been in contact with the City. Here is some of what we have learned:

Coyotes used to be found only in the central Midwestern plains states, but have actually benefited from human development and now can be found throughout North America. They are considered mid-sized predators (averaging 25-35 lbs), are built for speed (up to 40 mph) and are remarkably intelligent and adaptable animals. Unfortunately this adaptability and intelligence has led them to cities, which are rich in resources (food, water and shelter) and lacking large predators that would outcompete coyotes in more natural habitats.

Coyotes are skittish by nature, but constant contact with people, cars, pets, children and more have led to an increased comfortableness which is referred to as “habituation”. Coyotes that live in the city are all habituated to varying degrees. While they usually still avoid human contact, our private property and pets are simply parts of their territory. We can, however, do things to decrease certain behavior and protect out pets. Often the owners of pets who are attacked are unaware that coyotes are even in the area. Making sure that their presence is common knowledge is the first step to protecting our pets. Then understanding that our presence is the best deterrent of an attack is critical.

When pets are with their owners coyotes very rarely approach. In Colorado only 6 people have been bitten while defending a pet, and all of those pets were off leash at the time and most commonly in a natural area or open space. There have been a total of 15 people bitten throughout the state, those not in defense of a pet were either trying to feed or pet the coyote, were nearby where others had fed coyotes and in one case, the coyote was sick. Feeding coyotes is the number one reason why a coyote would directly approach a person.” Also, if you are approached by an agressive coyote, please report it to Kelly Uhing at Kelly.Uhing@denvergov.org.

Tips to Protect Your Pets:

  • Whenever you see a coyote, never ignore or avoid it. Make eye contact, yell, scream, throw things, blow a whistle or use whatever you have available to be the biggest, scariest person it (or they) have ever seen. This reteaches them to avoid human contact.
  • Keep cats indoors and small dogs attended when outside, especially after dark.
  • Close dog doors at night and go outside with your pet. A coyote won’t enter your home but may be waiting outside. (They are ambush predators, if you see a coyote out in the open it is not hunting)
  • Coyotes can learn routines, vary the time you let your pet out or turn on lights and check the yard before letting pet outside. If coyotes are present, aggressively chase them away. They are built to run, not fight, and will not confront an aggressive person unless cornered. Use noise makers, spray them with hose, shoot with water gun, yell and even chase them out. They will quickly learn which yards and people they need to avoid.
  • Never let dogs off leash in open space, this is where coyotes live and hunt.
  • Short leashes are safer than long ones.
  • Check your yard for things that may be resources for coyotes. Clean under birdfeeders and BBQ’s, keep compost enclosed, pick up fallen fruit (they do eat fruit and bird seed).
  • Keep noisemakers near doors to be quickly available if you see a coyote.
  • Six foot fences are safer than shorter fences, but they can get over them. They do need to pull themselves over, so pointed pickets or adding something to the top of fence that would prevent them from being able to grab the top helps deter them. (a few inches of chicken wire sticking up or PVC pipe on a string that rolls when touched can keep them out of yard).
  • Remove thick brush near homes
  • Motion activated lights
  • Secure garbage lids or keep inside
  • Enclose compost bins