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- Bill Cosh
Director of Communications
DNR advises public on steps to take to mitigate challenge of living among urban coyotes
News Release Published: December 7, 2011 by the Southeast Region
Contact(s): Tim Lizotte, Area Wildlife Supervisor, 262-574-2120
MILWAUKEE -- Because of a recent coyote attack on a small dog in Racine County, the Department of Natural Resources is advising Wisconsin residents to learn about strategies for living with urban coyotes.
Coyotes are one of the most adaptable predators in Wisconsin. They are found throughout the state, from the forests of northern Wisconsin to within the city limits of Milwaukee. Unfortunately, some coyotes can loose their fear of humans to the point that they won’t run away when people are nearby. There have been reports of coyotes following people when they are walking their dogs or of coyotes hanging around back yards. While coyote attacks on people are extremely rare, attacks on small pets are possible and simple precautions to limit interactions are a good idea.
Simply put, a coyote’s life revolves around food and there is an abundance of coyote food in urban areas. Subdivisions have parks, green space, and landscaped yards and gardens that provide excellent habitat for rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, mice, and small birds, which are all prey for coyotes. Some people also enjoy feeding wildlife, including leaving food scraps and pet food outside, also potential food sources for coyotes.
So what can you do to avoid negative human/coyote interactions?
- Do not leave food out for wildlife or feed your pets outside, and be sure to secure the tops of garbage containers.
- Do not let your pets roam free. Always walk your dog on a leash.
- Be especially alert at night and early morning hours when coyotes are most active. People should also be more alert in February and March during the coyote’s breeding season. During this time male coyotes can become very territorial and view pets, typically dogs, as competition.
- Consider curtailing feeding birds. There is always some seed that lands on the ground and this attracts rabbits, squirrels, and other coyote prey.
- Reinforce the coyotes' natural fear of humans by turning on outside lights, making loud noises, throwing objects at them and so forth. Be aggressive in your actions. Although the response may not be immediate, eventually the coyotes will flee.
- If you have a coyote that shows no fear of people or is acting in a threatening manner, consider hiring an animal damage control company to trap it. DNR permits are not needed for landowners, land occupants, family members, or their agents to trap or shoot coyotes (agents need written landowner authorization). Make contact with your local police department to ensure that you are in compliance with any trapping or shooting ordinances.
Communities with problem coyotes need to work together on a sustained control program as any areas where coyotes are removed can soon be repopulated by coyotes from other areas. More information on Nuisance Wildlife Guidelines (pdf) is available in a factsheet on the DNR website.
Check with local authorities to learn if shooting coyotes is allowable where you live.