Coyotes among us: what should we do?

Photo by Robert Bunch

People on the Nextdoor Hillcrest Forest app have been posting sightings and photos of coyotes in the neighborhood. Sandra Pettit reported seeing three coyotes trotting single file down the middle of the road heading west of the 7200 block of Kenny Lane.

Bonnie Bradshaw, the president of 911 Wildlife, a company that the City of Dallas contracted with about wildlife concerns, provides a few tips.

It’s true, she says. Coyotes are thriving in Preston Hollow and every neighborhood in Dallas. “The reason they are thriving in Preston Hollow is because of the high density of squirrels, rats and cotton-tailed rabbits,” she says.  She says cities have tried trapping and removing coyotes in the past. “But no matter how many coyotes are removed, it just puts up a flashing vacancy sign for other coyotes to move in and take over those territories,” she says. ” They are intelligent animals, and they very quickly learn that it is easier to find food in a residential neighborhood. Their main source of food is more plentiful in a residential area. That’s counterintuitive. The coyotes are in the neighborhood because that’s where the easy food is.”

She says there are up to 50 times more squirrels, rats and rabbits in residential areas than there are in undeveloped areas.

Why are we seeing more coyotes? We could be seeing more because the weather has cooled down and we’re outside more. “In the heat of the summer, people aren’t outside very much,” Bradshaw says. “Coyotes are thoroughly adapted. During the summer they tend to be a little more nocturnal. They’re out when it’s a little bit cooler. But from now until spring they will be out day and night because they work both shifts. During the day, they’re catching squirrels and rabbits, and at night they’re catching rats.”

What to do if you see a coyote, according to Bradshaw:

  • Coyotes are not a threat to children. Children are excellent deterrents for coyotes. Children are loud and playful, and that’s  discourages coyotes.
  • When someone sees a coyote, most people pull out their cameras and take pictures. That teaches the coyote that it’s safe, Bradshaw says. Instead, use a technique called “hazing.”
  • “Hazing” means that if you see a coyote, act aggressively toward it. Coyotes have an innate fear of people. So if you get out of your car, shout, clap your hands, wave your arms, challenge the coyote, it will run away.
  • Make sure you’re not inadvertently feeding the coyote. The number one food source for coyotes is bird feeders. “Bird feeders attract rats, squirrels and birds. So that becomes a coyote feeder. I would really question whether that bird feeder is beneficial,” Bradshaw says.

With all of the coyote sightings, have there been any attacks? Yes, of small dogs and cats, Bradshaw says. “It’s important for those owners to make sure their pets are supervised when they go outside. It’s a very bad combination to have a small dog and a pet door. Small dogs should never go outdoors unaccompanied day or night.

“Instead of taking pictures and putting them on NextDoor, when you see a coyote, says Bradshaw, “clap your hands, shout and make sure that you’re not inadvertently feeding them. Those are the two things that can significantly reduce coyotes in the neighborhood.”


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