Photo: How to haze a coyote

Urban coyotes actually have longer life expectancies than their rural cousins. (Credit: Dru Bloomfield via Flickr)

City life isn't for everyone. But urban coyotes find it suits them fine.

Today, defining the boundary of where urban meets rural can get blurry. And with every new sprawling development, our communities creep closer into habitats of our wild neighbors. Coyotes are one of those species—like pigeons, magpies, crows, and racoons—that can tolerate living with us. This can mean conflict between them, people, and pets.

Typically shy and not a threat to humans, coyotes may become more aggressive as they get comfortable around people. Don't do what I've done and try to get closer for a better look or a picture! (Because of its nonchalant nature, a few times I thought a coyote was a dog off-leash.)

Learn how to haze a coyote.

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Hazing can help maintain coyotes' fear of humans and deter them from our backyards (which I suspect would significantly reduce the number of missing cat posters in my neighbourhood). The simplest way is to get loud and large! Stand tall, wave your arms, and yell.

Keep your family and pets safe. Never feed coyotes. You're just putting the animal, yourself, and your neighbours at risk. Prevent unwanted encounters with urban coyotes by keeping pet food inside, and keeping your garbage bins tidy.

Studies show that urban coyotes actually have longer life expectancies than their rural cousins, so chances are they're here to stay. Find out if a naturalist group in your city offers urban coyote education programs, like Stanley Park Ecology Society's Co-Existing with Coyotes. They also have a coyote hotline (604-681-WILD) to report sightings and maintain a map of recent reports.

Do you have urban coyotes where you live?

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

June 24, 2012

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Jul 04, 2012
1:40 PM

Good advice about coyote "hazing". Thanks! Another suggestion to deter them: keep your cats safe indoors. The BCSPCA advises everyone to have "indoor cats", which keeps the cats healthier and safe from coyote attacks. We have actually seen a coyote on our block trot into and out of each yard all the way along the block, probably hunting for cats. I did not realize that a coyote can jump over a 6 foot (2m) fence. Amazing!

Jul 04, 2012
12:09 PM

I walk my dog in Lynn Creek off leash area. He is a big dog, not aggressive. On many occasions we have had coyote experiences. On two separate occasions while walked on the fenced trail, a coyote was on the other side of the fence. It charged aggressively at my dog and thankfully the fence served as protection. On many other occasions coyotes came right up to me, sat down and blocked the pathway. My dog was leashed. I "made myself big, waved arms, yelled" and they would not budge. I then charged at them waving a stick. Slowly and in a relaxed manner, the coyotes sauntered off. When I reported the many incidents I was not taken seriously. I no longer walk in the area because of my experiences and reports of other dog owners having the dogs attacked/stalked. Unfortunately the city is overrun with them and the North Shore has way too many who do not fear humans. I grew up on the North Shore since 1970. As kids we played in the woods and up Grouse Mtn. Only once did I see a bear and never saw coyotes. Personally, I'd like to see something done about it.

Jul 04, 2012
10:43 AM

RE: Blueberry — hitting habituated coyotes Good question. The level of hazing should be appropriate to the level of habituation of a coyote. Start with chasing and making noise to scare them away. If these tactics don't work then the level of hazing must be increased to spraying them with water, throwing objects and waving sticks at them. Most importantly this kind of hazing must be consistent and persistent so the more people that know the better. In many cases this kind of hazing can re-condition a coyote back to it's natural state of fearing people.

Jun 29, 2012
5:24 PM

So far I have seen coyotes everywhere in the last year from SFU/Burnaby Mt., Port Coquitlam and downtown Maple Ridge. I'm worried people will not be considerate of what is happening to their environment and be tolerant. People may not consider that there are pups hiding or that the animal is frightened and jump to the conclusion of a mindless aggressive animal. Its seems more often than not that is the trait of people.

Jun 29, 2012
3:48 PM

Is it ethical to hit a coyote that has been fed by humans and has no fear when you try to scare it off? Would that work in getting them to leave an area over the long term? I ask because I worry they might be culled if people think they're a threat to have walking around human-occupied areas constantly.

Jun 29, 2012
1:09 PM

I live in a rural area and coyotes are common. If they are killing small animals ie.cats and dogs and chickens they are usually shot. Urban folk need to be aware that hazing will not work well at all if the animal is rabid, They should make it their business to know the signs of the disease before they try heroics.

Jun 29, 2012
12:17 PM

Food is what does it — and hazing works.

I once found myself sitting alone near a campfire, while all of my buddies from the high-school camping trip went to the next site. They had left all sorts of food wrappers and meal detritus all over the place.

This is what attracted the coyotes who arrived an hour later. I found myself surrounded by 10-12 of them, several making noise as they approached me from behind.

At age 16, it seemed like I was done for. However, figuring I had nothing to loose, I picked up a stick and started banging the fire grate, while I stood to my full height and started yelling "Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!" while looking the animals in the eye. They took off quick.

Next morning, of course, many of my fellow campers (who did not believe my story, and left their backpacks outside their tents) woke before me. I was roused by cries of "Hey! Where are my hiking boots?!?" or "Hey! Where's all my food?!?"

Coyotes, and most other animals, come into the city to scavenge — just like in the wild, they run when a bigger animal is in the way.

Now David… perhaps you could give me advice on what to do when you encounter a bear. In the wild I just froze. While I wasn't attacked I got my crotch sniffed for about 10 seconds. I suspect that in a city, that'll only happen in certain disreputable neighbourhoods…

Jun 27, 2012
9:51 AM

Seems like coyotes are getting more aggressive. Or does it. They are smart, adaptable and curious. The will eat just about anything. Anyplace we've eliminated the bigger predators, the coyotes step up to fill the gap. Why are we so surprised that the supposedly "fearful and timid" coyotes are becoming bolder and more dangerous?

They are adapting to new food sources: garbage, pets, children (and in Cape Breton) an adult. They are opportunistic predators and that means anything that can't run away or fight back is potential food.

I think we have to accept the fact that coyotes are part of the environment, rural, urban and wild and behave accordingly. Bear-proof garbage cans are equally coyote-proof. Small pets have no business being unsupervised in an areas frequented by coyotes. The same goes for children.

We don't need to fear coyotes either in the city or the country but we do need to respect them just as we would a bear, cougar or wolf.

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