Thursday, March 12, 2015

Coyotes Among Us: Are We Paranoid Enough?

There are more of them.
They're getting bigger.
And they're getting more aggressive.

That, at least, is the general tenor of much recent news about them.

In January of this year, a San Diego woman was chased and bitten by a coyote while out on her morning run.  A few weeks later in the same neighborhood, a dog was attacked in front of his house by a coyote which the owner said was "the size of a German Shepherd."

A Fletcher Hills man saw a coyote staring hungrily at his Chihuahua through the window of his house. Numerous other people have reported their small dogs being snatched as they walked with their owners, and in one case, inside the owner's house.

Much more frightening was an attack on January 14 in Ladera Ranch, Ca.,  by a coyote who targeted a mother and her 14-month-old daughter. As they were playing on the grass near their home, the coyote began circling them and then lunged at the child. The terrified mother was able to fight the coyote off and back away into her house. Fifteen minutes later her husband heard screaming outside and tried unsuccessfully to intervene as the same coyote killed the first of two dogs who were apparently next on his menu if he couldn't have the baby.

Although Ladera residents were apparently familiar with that particular coyote, efforts to trap it have so-far proved unsuccessful, as have efforts to locate the coyote responsible for the San Diego attacks.

Coyotes in San Diego have been a threat to cats and small dogs for as long as I've lived here, but with rare exceptions, they were timid and furtive around humans, and would run from any dog bigger than themselves.

Now, however I'm seeing news reports of single coyotes attacking big dogs like golden retrievers and pointers. On March 6, CBS news in Stamford, Ct. reported that 4 large dogs had been attacked within a single week.
A Shepherd mix named Kylie being chased by a coyote

Kylie, the dog in the photo above, got away with only minor injuries, as did the other dogs who were attacked. Police surmised that this year's especially hard winter may be forcing the coyotes to prey on animals that they wouldn't normally dare to attack. Or maybe they see them as threats to their territory.

Last November 18, a New Hampshire coyote attacked a woman and her Chesapeake Bay Retriever in their back yard. The dog fought the coyote off until her husband came to their rescue. He said the coyote stood its ground even when he fired shots at it, running away only when the man went after it in his pickup.
Mack, the New Hampshire dog who fought a coyote in his own yard

California, and Southern California in particular, reports more Coyote attacks on humans than any other state or Canadian province. The graph covers the years 1986 - 2006.
In fact, looking at this graph, it would appear that we have as many or more than all the rest put together.

What to do about it?

Killing them doesn't work, They just breed faster and get sneakier.
Relocating them doesn't work. New coyotes just move right in..
Trapping them, besides being difficult, costly, and inhumane, often kills pets instead of coyotes.

Some ideas that might work can be found on the Humane Society website (See links below)

Or for about $30 you can buy wolf urine from the Predator Pee Store, whose motto is "bringing pee to the people since 1986" Wolf pee, apparently is very, very scary if you're a coyote.
Amazon carries it, too. I haven't checked out other sources.

On an almost completely unrelated note, I have discovered that maned-wolf urine smells exactly like marijuana. Apparently the pee contains an organic compound called a pyrazine that protects the wolf from developing stones in its urinary tract, as well as enhancing the aromatic potency of the pee. (Unrelated because I don't think maned-wolf pee is what you get if you buy wolf pee as a coyote repellent.)

In spite of all the bad news (and also personally losing 2 cats to coyotes), I can't help liking and admiring them. They are clever and adaptable, wild and beautiful. We humans are taking away their territories and their means of livelihood, and yet they persist and even thrive,  I think we'll have to learn to live with them.

Check out the YouTube video (link just below) of a coyote biting a man's boot. The coyote is gorgeous, and the man he was harassing obviously thought so, too.
   coyote hazing: