What Can We Do About Coyotes?

Observing coyotes and other wildlife is one of the many benefits of living near the Tahquitz Creek wash. Coyotes are intelligent, curious, adaptable creatures with many interesting habits. Most fear and avoid people. Recently, some coyotes have approached people and visited yards when people are present. Coyotes that get too comfortable around humans can become dangerous. 

What follows is a compilation of advice from the Humane Society, The California Department of Fish and Wildlife government offices and wildlife groups about how to deal with coyotes in a neighborhood, including tips to help coexist with coyotes, and information about when and how to use a deterrence strategy known as "hazing.”

Our relationship with coyotes is directly affected by our behavior — coyotes react to us, and we can foster mutual respect or a lack of respect through cues we send to them. By understanding more about coyote behavior, we can better understand how changing our behavior can help solve coyote problems. Most negative coyote interactions are preventable. The best thing for humans, pets and coyotes living in the same area is to minimize the possibility of an encounter. The first step in avoiding trouble with coyotes is to not ask for it. 

TAKE THESE STEPS FOR THE SUREST WAY TO PREVENT CONFLICTS

  • Keep dogs and cats from roaming free.
  • Don’t feed coyotes or leave food and other temptations in your yard.
  • Know how to handle encounters. 
  • Leash dogs in coyote areas, especially after spotting a coyote. Don’t let dogs chase coyotes. 

The most effective way to prevent conflict with coyotes in a neighborhood is to eliminate wildlife feeding. Feeding coyotes can make them unafraid of people and unnaturally bold. When we eliminate feeding opportunities, a coyote has less incentive to hang around. Sometimes we feed coyotes unintentionally. For example, we make small pets, garbage cans, and outdoor pet feeders accessible to hungry coyotes. We leave dirty dishes or food scraps outside after a cookout. We use bird feeders and don’t clean up the spilled seeds. Spilled bird seed can attract rodents and the coyotes that feed on them. We feed pets outside and forget to bring in the bowl after they eat. Sometimes we even store pet food outside. We leave ripe fruit on our trees and fallen fruit on the ground, attracting rodents as well as coyotes; coyotes eat both rodents and fruit. 

COYOTE HAZING GUIDELINES

Experts recommend light hazing (scaring away) to move an emboldened coyote out of an area or discourage an undesirable behavior or activity. Hazing can help maintain a coyote’s fear of humans and deter them from approaching people and entering yards. Hazing should be reserved for overly adventurous coyotes – the bold ones; the others are already skittish enough. The Humane Society provides the following guidance for hazing.

  • If a coyote has not been hazed before, he might not immediately run away when you yell at him. 
  • If this happens, you might need to walk towards the coyote and increase the intensity of your hazing. If the coyote does run away, it might stop after a distance and look back at you. 
  • Continue to haze the coyote until it leaves the area completely. 
  • You might need to use multiple tactics, such as shaking noisemakers, stomping your feet, and spraying it with a hose to get it to leave. 
  • After you have successfully hazed a coyote, it may return.
  • Continue to haze the coyote as you did before; it usually takes only a few times to haze a coyote away for good. 
  • If a coyote holds its ground, it could indicate pups are around. During denning season, coyotes may see you or you and your dog as a threat to their pups and act aggressively to protect them. If you suspect this is the case, leave without causing a confrontation – by backing up -- and avoid the area. 
  • If you encounter aggressive barking, growling, snarling and raised hackles, contact City of Palm Springs Animal Control or other appropriate authorities. 

City of Palm Springs Animal ControlNow located at:
Palm Springs Police Department
200 South Civic Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262

In-progress or Emergency: (760) 327-1441 or 9-1-1
Routine service or questions: (760) 323-8151

Mailing address:
PO Box 1830
Palm Springs, CA 92263

Email Address:
animal.control@palmsprings-ca.gov  

Use a variety of different items, sounds and actions to haze a coyote.

  • Be large and loud; stand up straight, wave your arms over your head and yell “Go away coyote.” 
  • Stomp your feet, and take steps toward the coyote while using your voice or a whistle, bell or small air horn to make more noise.
  • Be animated and aggressive; throw rocks, sticks, cans, tennis balls, rubber balls or anything you can pick up in the direction of the coyote (not directly at it so as to injure it). 
  • Try other repellents (e.g. hoses, water guns with vinegar water, spray bottles with vinegar water, pepper spray, bear repellant, or walking sticks). 
  • For more guidance from the Humane Society, visit humanesociety.org/coyotes, and watch this hazing demonstration at bit.ly/19hkRB2. 

IMPORTANT THINGS TO REMEMBER

  • Don’t run away from a coyote; running or briskly walking away could make you seem like prey.
  • According to wildlife experts at The Living Desert, if a coyote is aggressive toward your dog, it’s likely they think it is prey or a threat to their territory, especially if it is denning season and protecting young pups is a priority. 
  • Unattended neighborhood cats and dogs can appear to be easy prey to coyotes. 
  • Supervise pets at dawn, dusk and at night because that is when coyotes tend to be most active. 
  • Keep your dog on-leash if you’re walking along the wash or through the neighborhood at these times.
  • Take dogs and cats in at night, and make sure the cat or dog door is closed and locked.
  • If you do allow your cat outside, be certain it has something to climb to escape predators. If you've got a big tree or trees in your yard, fine. If not, consider building a cat post — a pole standing seven feet high or so, covered or made from something the cat can climb (like sisal rope), with a flat platform on top for the cat to hang out on until the coyotes leave it alone.

COYOTES

  • The desert coyote is a mid-size canine native to the Coachella Valley. It has a tan or light grey coat with a black-tipped tail. The scientific name is Canis latrans which means barking dog.
  • Coyotes have a special place in the lore of the First Nations and Native American people of North and Central America, and the word coyote derives from the Aztec word coyotl. American Indians called it “song dog.” The howling songs of coyotes are often heard at night. Song is important for communication between coyotes.
  • Coyotes are highly intelligent and social animals; they learn quickly and have exceptional senses of smell, vision and hearing. Coyotes are fast and agile; they can run at speeds of 25-40 mph (65 km/h) and jump in excess of 6 feet. 
  • Coyotes do not migrate but rather have a home range. They are highly territorial and maintain their home range for a lifetime unless forced to move by people or other coyotes. They actively keep non-family members outside their home range. 
  • Male/female pairs are monogamous for the breeding season and sometimes for life. The male frequently hunts alone and brings back food for the female during pregnancy, and he will help the female defend pups. Females that fail to mate sometimes assist sisters or mothers in raising pups.
  • Coyotes may be seen in family groups, but often travel alone. They usually hunt alone or in pairs and have been known to take turns in chasing and catching prey.
  • Coyotes are omnivorous. They subsist mainly on rodents and rabbits but will also eat squirrels, frogs, lizards, birds, eggs, insects, fruits and berries. Sometimes they eat rattlesnakes and scorpions. However, they are opportunistic feeders and will eat whatever is most readily available and easy to obtain. That means they will scavenge on animal remains as well as garbage and pet foods left outdoors, and they sometimes prey on unprotected pets – mostly cats.
  • The coyote has been described as "the most vocal of all [wild] North American mammals." Adults make at least 11 distinct vocalizations, including Growl, Huff, Woof, Bark, Bark-Howl, Whine, Yelp, Woo-oo-wow, Lone Howl, Group Howl, and Group Yip-Howl. These vocalizations fall into three categories:  agonistic and alarm, greeting, and contact. Some experienced coyote callers have identified two additional vocalizations that are referred to as Whoop and Yodel. Like most other wildlife, they don't vocalize when hunting so as not to attract competition. 
  • Coyotes probably most well known for the group yip-howl that is sent up when coyotes reunite, or just before they separate to go off hunting individually. As more coyotes join in, the more intense the vocalizations become, increasing in frequency and amplitude. Many variations of coyote vocalizations show up in this chorus including sounds called screams, gargles and laughs.
  • Whales have accents and regional dialects; dolphins call each other by name and can remember those names, even if they haven’t seen each other for 20 years; and Orcas can learn to speak dolphin; so perhaps it comes as no surprise that some researchers believe that similar characteristics will someday be confirmed in coyote communication.
  • To listen to coyote vocalizations visit: http://www.soundboard.com/sb/Wild_Coyote_sounds
  • To learn what coyote vocalizations mean visit: https://urbancoyoteinitiative.com/translating-the-song-dog-what-coyotes-are-saying-when-they-howl/

COYOTE HAZING TECHNIQUES

Q: What is hazing? 
A: Hazing is a process designed to scare wild animals away and to instill in them a fear of humans. This is done for both public safety and the well-being of the animal. Wild animals that get too comfortable around humans can become dangerous. 

Q: What should I do if I encounter a coyote? 
A: First, immediately pick up children and small pets, leash dogs too large to carry, and implement the hazing strategies detailed below. Never let a coyote get between you and your pet or child, and never turn your back on or run from one. If you encounter multiple coyotes, be particularly careful. Once you start hazing do not stop until the coyote has left the area. 

Q: When should I haze a coyote? 
A: Anytime you are confronted by one. Consistency is important. Everyone in the neighborhood must work together to make Coyotes feel unwelcome in residential areas. 

Q: When should I not haze a coyote? 
A: Do not haze a coyote if it is cornered, injured or has pups. In the event you encounter a coyote under these circumstances, maintain eye contact with the coyote and slowly back away. 

Q: How do I haze a coyote? 
A: Use a variety of different items, sounds and actions to haze, or scare away, a coyote.

  • Be large and loud; stand up straight, wave your arms over your head and yell “Go away coyote.” 
  • Stomp your feet, and take steps toward the coyote while using your voice or a whistle, bell or small air horn to make more noise.
  • Be animated and aggressive; throw rocks, sticks, cans, tennis balls, rubber balls or anything you can pick up in the direction of the coyote (not directly at it so as to injure it). 
  • Try other repellents (e.g. hoses, water guns with vinegar water, spray bottles with vinegar water, pepper spray, bear repellant, or walking sticks). 

YOU, YOUR DOG AND COYOTES

The best way to avoid conflict between your dog and a coyote is to stay vigilant and know how to react if you see one. Following are general tips from the Urban Coyote Initiative. 

Basic Rules for Walking Dogs in Coyote Territory

  • Keep your dog on a 6-foot leash so you can control your dog at a moment’s notice.
  • Avoid areas known to have coyote activity, especially during breeding and pupping season from around February to June.
  • Avoid areas with thick brush; stick to trails and open paths that give you time to spot and react to a coyote.
  • Avoid walking your dog at sunrise and sunset hours.

What to Do If You and Your Dog Encounter a Coyote

  • Leash your dog (or pick up and carry small dogs).
  • Stand tall and assertive.
  • Haze the coyote until it leaves the area.
  • Caveat: If it is breeding and pupping season (February through July) you may be near a den and considered a threat. Do not haze the coyote because it may act out defensively. During these months, the best thing to do is to slowly and calmly walk away without ever turning your back on the coyote. Coyotes will sometimes follow you for a distance to escort you out of their territory.
  • Report overly brazen coyotes to authorities. Palm Springs Animal Control at the Palm Springs Police Department.
  • In-progress/Emergency: (760) 327-1441 or 9-1-1
  • Routine service or questions: (760) 323-8151
  • Email: animal.control@palmsprings-ca.gov

For more information, visit: https://urbancoyoteinitiative.com/what-to-do-if-you-encounter-a-coyote-while-walking-your-dog/.

PREVENT COYOTES FROM BEING ATTRACTED TO YOUR YARD

The most effective way to prevent coyote attacks in your neighborhood is to eliminate wildlife feeding. 

  • Secure garbage in sturdy containers with tight fitting lids.
  • Don’t leave pet food outside.
  • Keep compost in secure containers.
  • Pick fruit off fruit trees when it is ripe and keep fallen fruit off the ground because it attracts rodents which then attract coyotes. Plus, Coyotes eat fruit.
  • Keep birdseed off the ground; seeds attract rodents which then attract coyotes. Remove feeders if coyotes are seen in your yard. 
  • Keep barbecue grills clean.
  • Eliminate accessible water sources.
  • Secure your pets: coyotes view pets as potential food items. Pets should not be left outdoors unattended.

FOR MORE COYOTE INFORMATION

For tips to protect pets and discourage coyotes from being attracted to your neighborhood:
http://www.livingdesert.org/coyotes-misunderstood-neighbors/
http://www.humanesociety.org/assets/pdfs/wild_neighbors/coyote_hazing.pdf
https://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/coyote.html

For information about safely hazing coyotes:
Call The Living Desert at (760) 568-233 or visit  http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/coyotes/tips/hazing_guidelines.html

To learn why removing coyotes creates problems: http://www.humanesociety.org/animals/coyotes/tips/against_killing_coyotes.html

For general information about coyotes: 
http://www.livingdesert.org/animal/coyote/

http://www.palmspringsca.gov/city-services/animal-services/animal-control/wildlife

https://www.desertusa.com/