Urban Coyotes - Introduction
Updated: Jun 8
I saw a coyote across the street first thing this morning when taking my dog out for her morning potty break.
Urban coyote population in Los Angeles is exploding. Their natural predators are wolves, bears, cougars, and alligators. None of those are generally found in urban areas. Read on to see how you can keep your children and your pets safe.
I subscribe to the social media app NextDoor where there have been a plethora of almost-daily reports of urban coyote sightings in my neighborhood. Since I walk my dog and since I am a dog trainer/behavior consultant, I wanted to learn more about them, not only for my own safety but also so I could pass the information on to my clients and other NextDoor readers. There were basically two types of sites – the first type was “the only good coyote is a dead coyote,” and the second type gave information on methods based on science. I chose the second.
Readers on NextDoor were upset coming face to face with a predator in their neighborhood – and I was one of them. Now that I know more about them, I am not as concerned – still concerned but not as much. Here’s the deal – although it is very scary to see our predator in our neighborhood, there are very few coyote attacks or other encounters because coyotes usually will stay away from us if we learn how to stay safe. Isn’t that encouraging?
During my research, I learned that I had a lot of misconceptions about urban coyotes. Removing, trapping, or euthanizing ONE coyote will actually increase the coyote population in our area. And I learned about Urban Coyote Behavior so I am now more aware of what to look for, how to reduce their population in our neighborhoods, what to do if I encounter one on a walk, and how to report a sighting to the authorities.
First and foremost, I’m a city gal. I get it that we humans have encroached into coyote territory and made their lives more difficult. However, there’s a huge difference in speaking philosophically and being confronted by a predator in my yard or on a walk, which is frightening. I will do everything in my power to avoid confrontation. And so can you.
Please don’t go near any wild predator thinking that it will somehow “know” that you are not going to hurt them. If a coyote is going to go after a human, it will likely be a child walking a small dog on an extended leash during dawn or dusk near their den during mating and pup-rearing season. I’m gonna choose protecting and saving a child or a pet over a coyote. Every time. Remember, even on African safaris in wildlife reserves, guides (whose job it is to protect wild animals) carry rifles and will shoot if humans are threatened.
If you're a bottom-line person, here’s a summary of the “what’s” in these articles, but please take a few minutes of your life and read them to learn about the “why’s.” Learning more about them may save you from the heartache of an attack on your pets or children – and, besides, it’s pretty interesting stuff.
Urban coyotes are most active and most likely to be seen from January to May and at dawn and dusk.
Urban coyote adolescents are active from June to September while they are learning about life in the city and also searching out new territories.
Coyotes prefer quiet areas away from humans because they are generally afraid of us. But they are extremely adaptable and will live and nest wherever they can in order to find food and to reproduce.
Their main diet is rodents, but they will eat fruits, vegetables, garbage, and small animals. Newsflash - they don’t know dogs and cats are our pets. To them, it’s just another small animal, i.e., dinner.
If you report coyote sightings to Animal Control, they are unlikely to do anything about it, so it’s up to us to learn how to stay safe both at home and on walks.
Clean up your yard, take away food sources (you’ll be surprised what they are), put in coyote fencing.
And they may go after babies if unattended or toddlers who are not close to an adult.
o Don’t leave a baby in a stroller while you run inside your house even for just a second.
o Keep your dog on a leash that is 6 feet or shorter.
o Don’t let your dog or toddler run ahead of you. I personally have witnessed a couple letting both their dog and child run ahead of them at dusk in March. They were unconcerned after I told them there were coyotes in the area. Dumb. Really dumb.
That’s it in a nutshell. The bottom line in staying safe is to avoid them.
LINKS TO MY OTHER BLOG POSTS IN THIS SERIES ON URBAN COYOTES
LINKS TO OTHER WEBSITES
I wrote these articles by compiling information from a number of sources on the Internet. Here are their URLs if you would like to read more about them. Urban coyotes are frightening if you encounter them but fascinating to learn about.
https://coyoteyipps.com/2019/06/18/all-about-coyote-pups-a-prime This is a great site and has an audio of how to differentiate coyote vocalizations.
https://coyotecoexistence.com/ This is also another great site which includes a very informative video.
MY BOOKS AND TRAINING
If you like these posts on urban coyotes, please check out my other posts and books which are specifically on dogs and puppies. I have been a dog trainer/behavior consultant for 30 years, was the first trainer to be certified by 5 dog training organizations, and am an award-winning author of 10 books. I offer in-person private training in the Los Angeles area and Zoom training in the Los Angeles area as well as worldwide.
Puppy Potty Training – The Expert’s Guide to Easy Housetraining FAST 2015 Gold Global eBook Award Winner
Doggie Dangers and Safety Tips – Preventing Accidents In and Around Your Home and Yard
Puppy Socialization – An Insider’s Guide to Dog Behavioral Fitness
Puppy and Dog Potty Training
Teacup Puppies & Dogs – Choosing a Breeder & Choosing a Dog
Teacup Puppies & Dogs – Supplies, Pre-Puppy Prep & First Week Home
Teacup Puppies & Dogs – Feeding, Care, Safety, Health & Grooming
Teacup Puppies & Dogs – Obedience Training, Games & Play
Teacup Puppies & Dogs – Potty Training & Behavior Issues