Coyotes are thriving in urban areas throughout the United States. Neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nor local and state health departments have classified coyotes as a human safety risk. Coyotes eat rats, mice, rabbits, squirrels, birds, fruit and insects. All of those food items are more plentiful in residential neighborhoods than in rural areas. Coyotes also occasionally take cats and small dogs; however, the number of missing pets attributed to coyote predation is greatly exaggerated. (The most frequent cause of death for a free-roaming cat or dog is a car collision.)
In undeveloped areas, coyotes den in burrows dug into hillsides or under the roots of upturned trees. In urban areas, they often den under decks and sheds. Their territories vary with the food supply, averaging 4 to 15 square miles. It’s normal for urban coyotes to be active both during daylight hours and at night. If you share your neighborhood peacefully with a resident coyote, it will provide excellent, chemical-free rodent control. For those who prefer not to see a coyote in their yard, here are three simple, effective steps:
- Never leave pet food outside and restrict the use of birdseed. Coyotes are attracted to the birds and rodents that eat at bird feeders.
- If you have a deck or shed, install an L-shaped barrier around the base to prevent coyotes from denning underneath it.
- If a coyote enters your yard, actively discourage it by making loud noises, throwing sticks or spraying water from a garden hose to teach it to stay away.
Trapping and relocating coyotes is not humane, effective or legal:
- Several studies have shown that relocated animals have a low rate of survival.
- Trapped animals are quickly replaced by others from surrounding areas, especially in urban neighborhoods.
- It is illegal in Texas to relocate coyotes.