ST. LOUIS – Coyotes are more active this time of year which means more sightings in the suburbs and even in urban areas. Seeing a coyote can be startling but the main concern should be your little pets.
Coyotes are active in the spring as they look for food for their young and more abundant food sources thanks to the warmer weather.
“We’ve had numerous reports of them in places like Forest Park and Tower Grove Park and in suburban areas from north county to south county and west county,” said Dan Zarlenga, Missouri Department of Conservation.
If you see a coyote, what should you do?
“The first thing to remember is that there have been no documented coyote attacks on humans in the state of Missouri,” Zarlenga said. “The thing that might be something of a concern is pets. Small pets like cats could possibly looked at as prey by a coyote and other dogs, especially the smaller dogs.”
Often when a coyote attacks a dog, it’s territorial. They see the dog as a competing or invading canine.
Keep your small pets safe by going outside with them, especially at dawn, dusk, and at night. Fences can also help as one more barrier making it harder to get into your yard or to your dogs.
The best way to prevent any potential conflicts is harassment.
“If you do see coyotes in your yard or near your yard you want to harass them and make sure it’s an unpleasant experience for them,” Zarlenga said. “That can be anything from really bright lights you shine in their face to shooting them with high powered hoses. You can throw things at them, use air horns, whistles, bang pots and pans.”
Another angle is to make sure you aren’t attracting coyotes to your yard.
“If you can keep that trash in an airtight container or leave it in the garage or a shed or something until its ready to go out. Don’t feed your pets outside. Leaving that dog food outside can attract coyotes. Another thing is grills. Make sure you keep those grills covered or in an enclosed space because that grease or meat particles on the grill will also attract coyotes,” Zarlenga said.
In addition, bird feeders attract rodents, which then attract coyotes as well.