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Wildlife Weekly: Coyote Mythbusting

We’ve been hearing some misinformation circulating about coyotes in Arizona. To help shed some light, we want to step in and do some Coyote Mythbusting to hopefully ease dog owners’ anxiety and advocate for this magnificent desert canine.

Myth: Coyotes hunt in packs.
Fact: A typical coyote diet consists of mice and other rodents, alongside other flora and small fauna (depending on their habitat). Imagine you’re about to eat a mouse. Would you want to share it with your brother? No way. Coyotes are looking for single-serve meals.

Myth: Packs will send in a single coyote to lure a household pet away so the pack can attack together.
Fact: Similar to the previous fact, coyotes hunt for themselves (or their pups if they’re parents). Though highly intelligent creatures, they aren’t this pre-meditated. If a coyote finds prey, their main objective is to take it down and eat it themselves.

Myth: Coyotes are actively looking to eat your pets.
Fact: Coyotes are called “opportunistic hunters.” This means they’ll go for the easiest meal that reveals itself to them. As pet owners, you can work to take away the opportunity for coyotes to easily encounter your animals at home.

Myth: Coyotes can’t jump over my 7-foot tall cinder block fence.
Fact: Coyotes can jump up to 14 feet in the air. Your everyday backyard fence won’t do much on its own to deter coyotes from exploring your backyard, particularly if you have a water source like a swimming pool, a fountain, or a bird bath.

So what can you do to deter coyotes from your property and/or protect your furry friends at home? Here are some pro tips from our Animal Care experts:

  • If you have small dogs, supervise potty breaks. Keep pups on a leash when walking outdoors.
  • Keep household cats inside. If they like to have outside time, consider creating a “catio” with an additional barrier of protection for kitties. There are tons of cool (and cost-effective!) ideas for constructing these online.
  • If there’s a coyote in your yard or around your property and you want to deter it, make yourself big and make some noise. Humans aren’t prey for coyotes; they naturally fear us. If you’re big and noisy, they’ll likely run off.
  • Never ever ever feed or touch wildlife. They remember where easy meals come from. If you feed them, you can pretty much guarantee they’ll be back.
  • Don’t call an exterminating/animal removal company on coyotes. Regardless of your views on this practice, coyotes are highly adaptable animals wired to survive. Studies show that “if their population is pressured, their litter sizes go up.” Females can double the size of their litters to make up for population decline.* So, if you forcibly remove coyotes from a habitat, you might actually end up with twice as many in the long run.

Overall, keep your distance and enjoy the wild ones who share the world with us. It would be a lonely planet if humans were the only inhabitants.

*National Geographic

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