Coyote Expert Offers Advice

Applies to both cats & dogs!

From an interview with Carol Cartaino, author of The Myths and Truths About Coyotes: What You Need to Know About America’s Most Misunderstood Predator, with Catnip Magazine, by Dusty Rainbolt:

Q: As humans encroach into coyote territory, you’d think coyotes would be struggling for food. Why is that not true anymore?

Cartaino: Coyotes have successfully adapted to suburban living because they have so many food sources in the suburbs. They can feed from food scraps in the trash cans or eat bowls of food left out on porches and other places for pets.

Q: Cats have great defenses in claws and teeth, and they can climb trees. If they hang out near trees, shouldn’t they be safe?

Cartaino: Some outside cats and feral cats remain alert and agile. But many pet cats, living the good life with humans, have grown fat, out of shape and under-vigilant. Event a strong, fit and vigilant cat has little chance against a fast, agile coyote that’s three or four times its size.

Researchers from the Universities of Arizona and Montana took a closer look at the cat-coyote question in 2005 and 2006. They trapped and fitted radio collars on eight Tucson-area coyotes and then observed them. Of 36 coyote-cat encounters, 19 proved fatal to the cat. During the 45 times they actually observed a coyote eating, more than 40 percent of the time it was eating cat.

Reports of coyote attacks on cats have been increasing in almost every state. Recent studies done in Claremont, CA and Seattle, WA and Vancouver, CA  indicate that urban coyotes rely on pets as a major food source, especially in winter and spring. From 1985 to 1995, for example, the number of coyote attacks on pets in Texas rose fourfold.

Q: What can cat (and dog) owners do to protect their pets?

Cartaino: The biggest single thing you can do is keep your cats inside. If you have outdoor cats, don’t let them out from sunset to sunrise. Coyotes hunt at dawn and dusk. That’s when cats hunt as well. Small dogs aren’t safe either.

Q: Shouldn’t a fenced yard protect my dog and cat?

Cartaino: A fenced yard is no deterrent. There have been many reports of coyotes jumping a backyard fence, grabbing a small pet, and then running off with it. Actually, a fence makes it easy to corner the pet.

Q: How can I keep from attracting coyotes to my property?

Cartaino: Never put out any food or water sources. Bird feeders attract rodents, which attract coyotes. Feeding any wild animals outside is asking for trouble. Feeding coyotes attracts them, but doesn’t stop them from attacking pets.

The University of California states in its coyote management guidelines, “Anyone who intentionally feeds coyotes is putting the entire neighborhood’s pets and children at risk of coyote attack and serious injury.”

If you see a coyote, never act indifferently or friendly toward it. Yell or throw something. For them to coexist harmlessly in the human community, they must be afraid of people.