Here in Southern California, we’re in the middle of a bit of a coyote crisis, if you will. Urban coyotes are becoming a huge issue for authorities and residents alike, but no one is in more danger than household pets.
Here’s what your trusted L.A. veterinarians want you to know about keeping your pet safe from coyotes.
Why Coyotes are Thriving in Urban California
Coyotes are incredibly adaptive animals. Commercial and residential development is the primary driver of their increasing migration towards heavily-populated areas. In most instances, coyotes simply don’t have anywhere else to go. Studies have recently revealed that urban coyotes in the Los Angeles area are surviving on a steady diet of garbage, rodents, and…about 8% cats. Coyotes eat domesticated dogs, too, but differentiating their DNA in captured coyotes’ stomach contents is complicated.
Coyotes can live anywhere the climate is relatively stable (like LA), where there is plenty of refuse to scavenge (like LA), and where there are enough hillsides and manmade structures to hide in and around (like LA.) Coyote sightings are up all over the country, however, as these feral animals come into closer and closer contact with us humans.
Coyotes and Your Pets
As coyotes become more comfortable living near people, they also become less fearful. Urban-dwelling coyotes can be shockingly bold in their attacks, harming anything from dogs on leashes to children playing in yards. Remember that coyote violence isn’t the only risk these animals pose to your pets: They’re also harbingers of infectious diseases like rabies, hepatitis, parvo, mites, and more.
What can you do to protect your unsuspecting pets against the threat of coyotes? Here are a few things to consider:
- Avoid walking your dog (or cat!) during early morning and/or twilight hours, as this is when coyotes are more likely to strike.
- Never, ever leave your pet outside unattended, particularly tied up. If you have a continuous coyote problem in your area, talk to your vet about helping your outdoor cat become an indoor cat.
- Keep animal food, fallen fruit from trees, and even compost out of the yard. Coyotes are very opportunistic feeders. Also be sure your trash/recycling is securely covered at all times. Anything that smells like food – i.e. your dirty grill – should be cleaned.
- Be vigilant about coyote sightings. Always report coyotes to local animal control and share details with any neighborhood groups you are a part of. Don’t become indifferent! If you see a coyote, make as much obnoxious noise as possible; haze it off by clapping, shouting, and waving your arms aggressively, even if you’re far away. (Don’t turn and run!)
Coyotes are natural predators, but that’s what nature intended! As humans and wildlife continue to grapple with blurred borders, we all have to be more aware of the affects our close quarters have on each other. Your pet doesn’t know there are coyotes around, so it’s up to you to do what you can to protect her.