Coyote Season Arrives
State Department of Energy & Environmental Protection officials (DEEP) want to educate shoreline residents about coyote behavior and activity, which has and will be increasing in the coming months. According to the agency, mating season for eastern coyotes is from now until the end of March, which often triggers an increase in coyote-human interaction.
Male coyotes can become more aggressive during this time of year, according to DEEP data, and coyotes pose a consistent risk to dogs and other small pets all year. The agency has a number of actions residents can take to keep their pets and people safe by lessening the likelihood of encounters.
DEEP Tips for Preventing Conflicts with Coyotes
• Do not allow pets to run free. Keep cats indoors, particularly at night, and dogs on a leash or under close supervision at all times. (Cats can be taken by predatory birds such as hawks, and especially owls as well. Cats also have a devastating effect on wildlife themselves.)
• The installation of a kennel or coyote-proof fencing is a long-term solution for protecting pets. An invisible electric fence is not effective in protecting dogs from coyote attacks.
• Never feed coyotes. Do not place food out for any mammals. Clean up bird seed below feeders, pet foods, and fallen fruit. Secure garbage and compost in animal-proof containers.
• Always walk dogs on a leash. If approached by a coyote while walking your dog, keep the dog under control and calmly leave the area. Do not run or turn your back. Coyotes are territorial and many reports of bold coyotes visiting yards, howling, or threatening larger dogs can be attributed to this territorial behavior.
• Attempt to frighten away coyotes by making loud noises (e.g., shouting, air horn) and acting aggressively (e.g., waving your arms, throwing sticks, spraying with a hose).
• Be aware of any coyote behaving abnormally or exhibiting unusually bold behavior (e.g., approaching people for food, attacking leashed pets that are with their owners, stalking children, chasing joggers or bikers, etc.) and report these incidents to authorities immediately. Report any coyotes exhibiting behavior indicative of rabies, such as staggering, seizures, or extreme lethargy, immediately as well.
• Daytime coyote activity is not uncommon; it is not necessarily indicative of rabies.
• Prevent coyotes from denning in close proximity to homes and yards with pets and children. Identify potential den sites in March when snow tracking can more readily reveal natural burrows, rock crevices, hollow tree trunk cavities, and crawl spaces under sheds or even decks, especially on unoccupied structures. Such dens should be inspected and any animals evicted prior to denning in April. Dens should be filled in and or collapsed and those suspected under buildings, porches, and sheds excluded by animal proofing any access.
• DEEP does not remove problem coyotes, but may issue a permit to landowners or municipalities to employ a licensed nuisance wildlife control operator, who is qualified in advanced trapping, to target coyotes that have attacked supervised pets or penned farm animals, are diseased, or have threatened public health and safety.
Contact the DEEP Wildlife Division at 860-424-3011 for more information on coyotes or other wildlife problems.
Coyote Facts from DEEP
• It is a myth that coyotes vocalize [only] after a kill. Though they can and do vocalize after kills, coyotes use a variety of vocalizations to communicate with one another. Howls, yelps, and high-pitched cries are best known, but they also bark, growl, wail, and squeal. Family groups yelping in unison can create the illusion of a dozen or more performing together. Coyotes are most often heard around dawn and dusk. However, they can vocalize at any time of day, and may respond to sirens and fire whistles.
• Coyotes are not native to Connecticut, but have extended their range eastward during the last 100 years from the western plains and midwestern United States, through Canada and into the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states. Coyotes were first reported in Connecticut in the mid-1950s.
• Eastern coyotes are generally larger in size than their western counterparts. Recent genetic research has attributed the eastern coyote’s larger size to interbreeding with Canadian gray wolves.
• Coyotes are biologically able to reproduce with domestic dogs, although because of several barriers, they rarely do.