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10/26/2017

Coexisting with Coyotes

Coyotes are a part of the urban ecosystem.
Coyotes are a part of the urban ecosystem.
Coyotes are highly adaptable, which is why you will find them in every state in America.  These small canids can survive in just about any climate under a multitude of conditions including right here in Brighton.  Like birds, squirrels, rabbits, and humans, coyotes are a part of the urban ecosystem.  We have and can continue to effectively coexist with coyotes, but first we must understand them. 

Coyotes are more afraid of you than you are of them.

Although being face to face with a coyote isn’t ideal, you shouldn’t fear them.  Coyotes are afraid of humans and will usually avoid residential areas altogether.  Coyotes prefer to live in a dense forest over your backyard.  Due to the disparate nature of greenspace in urban areas, coyotes occupy large territories that include a distributed network of parks, forests, and other natural areas. 

The main thing on the menu isn’t your beloved house pet.

In fact, coyotes are omnivores, meaning, like humans, they eat a variety of food.  Their typical menu consists of nuts, berries, plants, and small animals, such as, rats, moles, and rabbits, which is good news for our vegetable gardens.   Coyotes prefer to stick to a natural diet, but if natural food sources are scarce, coyotes may rifle through your trash or go after small house pets.  Despite popular belief, the coyote isn’t a savage beast needing eradication, but rather a sign that the urban ecosystem is healthy.  Coyotes can tame populations of Canada geese, and other animals that become overpopulated in communities, keeping the urban ecosystem in balance.

Coyotes are lot more like humans than you think.

What could we possibly have in common with a wild animal?  A lot more than you think:  contrary to popular belief, coyotes are naturally diurnal, meaning awake during the day and asleep at night.  Some coyotes, however, adapt to a nocturnal schedule to avoid running into humans.  If you see a coyote out during the day, know that is completely normal.

Coyotes are monogamous and mate for life.  They may not write love songs about it, but coyotes, like some humans, are searching for “the one.”  Moreover, coyotes are entirely faithful to their partners.  Research has shown that coyotes do not cheat and remain together until death do they part.   Scientists attribute this loyalty and the fact that both parents raise their offspring together to the species’ successful survival in a broad range of habitats.  And, just like humans, coyotes live in packs as well as on their own, transitioning through these periods of solace and companionship throughout their lifetimes. 
 
Although coyotes have a lot in common, we don’t need to be next door neighbors.  There are a few things you can do to discourage coyotes from visiting your home.
 
  • Put your trash out in the morning rather than at night.  If you do put it out at night, keep it in a tightly sealed trash bin. 
 
  • Be mindful that throwing food waste into your garden for composting or hosting a bird feeder in your yard attracts small animals that are a food source for the coyote.
 
  • Keep small dogs on a leash and accompany them when going outside, and consider raising indoor cats rather than outdoor cats.
 
  • If you see a coyote, yell or make loud noises to scare them away.
Coyotes and humans can effectively coexist and have been doing so for a long time.  There is no need to be afraid of these creatures, but we do need to make sure we aren’t encouraging them out of their natural habitats.  If you see a coyote, make loud noises or enjoy the natural beauty our community has to offer.  Learn more about coyotes living in urban areas from the Urban Coyote Initiative.

 

 

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