We live in coyote country, and it’s that time of the year… pupping season. We don’t know if the coyotes around here have pups. They’ll still be too small to come out just yet.
What we do know is that the mom and dad coyotes will be very protective of the pups, if any. Janet Kessler has a detailed post on her Coyote Yipps blog about this, and what precautions people should take. Especially if they’re out with their dogs.
Coyotes are feeling particularly edgy and protective of their space right now. When the pups are brought out of the dens, and when they begin to explore further afield, the coyote parents will defend a much wider area around the pups and they will do so more fiercely than usual. We need to give them plenty of girth so that they feel safe…
If you have a dog, keep walking on, away from the coyote. Try not to stop and stare because this sets up an opportunity for the dog and coyote to communicate through body language and eye contact — it almost always involves mutual dislike. If the coyote feels threatened, he/she may stand his/her ground with a warning display which includes what I call the “Halloween Cat” display: arched back, hackles up, snarly face with teeth bared, head down, pacing or bouncing: this is a message — it is the only way a coyote can make you understand what its needs are.
HOW TO RETREAT FROM AN UPSET COYOTE
And here are some specific suggestions from her blog-post:
- As you retreat from an upset coyote, make sure that you walk away, don’t run. Running might incite the coyote to chase — it’s an instinctual reaction.
- An angry and loud voice, along with sharp noises or flailing one’s arms might hurry them on their way.
- Clapping ones’s hands, or shaking a small 4-ounce juice-size can with coins in it works.
- The newest idea that has been suggested is carrying a small fold-up umbrella with you if you walk in a coyote area and feel a need for added protection. Just flashing the umbrella open and closed a few times will startle a coyote off!
Charles Wood, who watches a coyote family in Los Angeles, guest-blogs on Coyote Yipps. He has a description of parental behavior that’s interesting to read:
Dad is still looking a bit thin. I came across them both as I was leaving their field. Mom was partially in cover. I moved about twenty feet away from my leashed dog to get a less obscured picture of her. Seeing an opportunity, Dad quickly approached my dog Holtz. Dad disregarded Holtz’s barking and then charged. I snapped a quick picture and then moved to stand between him and Holtz. His opportunity blocked, Dad broke off his charge, moved back, calmed down and did some investigatory sniffing. Throughout the event, Mom stood at the ready.
Again, the point to note is that coyotes react much more to dogs than they do to humans. Usually, they avoid humans. Janet Kessler notes:
I’ve never had a negative encounter with a coyote. But I have watched other people have them. Every incident I have seen has been caused by a human with their dog who inadvertently or purposefully refused to respect a coyote’s space.