They may look like a dog, but their striking yellow eyes & black-tipped bushy tail are a tell-tale signs that they are not.
According to a Star Tribune report from February 2010, coyotes are infiltrating the Minnesota Twin Cities metro area in record numbers. In the past several weeks there have been numerous reports of coyote sightings, and several attacks on pets have been reported in Golden Valley, St. Louis Park & Edina.
St. Louis Park Environmental Coordinator Jim Vaughan said coyotes have been reported near Minnehaha Creek, Westwood Nature Center, the Cedar Lake Trail and Oak Hill Park.
"They're covert for the most part," Vaughan said.
At this time of year, as coyotes pair up and create dens, they become territorial, Vaughan said. They could deem any canine in the area a threat.
"That's why they seem to be more aggressive at this time," Vaughan said.
This year's winter also contained so much snow cover that coyotes may have become desperate to find food, he added.
"In the past we've had pretty mild winters with low snow cover so they can find other things to eat without coming into people's backyards, so to speak," he said.
There have been many discussions on what to do about the "coyote problem", but PREVENTION is the best measure, in-my-opinion.
Coyotes go where the food is, so ...
- Don't leave a compost bin accessible & keep your garbage cans securely closed/latched/tied to a post (store in the garage , if possible) ... For garbage pickup days, garbage should be put out that morning (not the night before, where they can be tipped over and feasted from)
- Enclose your bags of bird seed in secure metal containers (if stored outside/in-shed), use squirrel-proof bird feeders, clean-up any spilled bird seed (which attracts squirrels), and use seeds squirrels generally dislike (i.e. thistle & safflower seeds)
- Keep weeds & brush cut down
- Do NOT feed wildlife such as deer & squirrels
- Eliminate piles of "stuff" in your yard (to discourage mice population)
- Keep grills clean
- Fence your gardens (coyotes like veg, fruit & berries)
- Walk your dogs on a leash in a well-lighted area at night, and carry a whistle and/or a pop can with some pennies in it (to shake at & scare-off coyotes that might approach you)
- Keep your cats INSIDE
- Do NOT feed or water your pets outside
- Harass (by chasing, shouting, spray with water hose, throw sticks, blow whistle or air horn, etc.) any coyotes that do not immediately run from people
- Lastly, NEVER feed the coyotes ... their fear of us is what keeps us safe from them.
The above tips will not only lessen the likelihood of coyotes in your yard, but raccoons too (known for carrying rabies). Which reminds me ... make sure your pets are up-to-date on their rabies, distemper, and parvo vaccinations. Some dogs and cats survive coyote attacks only to succumb to a preventable illness.
Also, not only are small breed dogs (and cats) at higher risk of harm, but so are puppies & senior dogs ... who need to watch out for owls and hawks too.
By-the-way ... notice I said "higher risk" ... Coyotes are pack animals and their packs have no problem taking down all sized dogs. Our family has personally lost several small & medium sized dogs (Poodle, Sheltie & American Staffordshire Terrier) to coyote attacks.
Best to keep cats inside & all doggies on a leash, or in your supervised 6-foot privacy fenced yard.
For more information about urban coyotes, please visit the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website, City of Bloomington website, Urbancoyoteresearch.com, or the United Wildlife Control website.