We are blessed to live, work and play in amazing neighborhoods that provide easy access to Forest Park and other undeveloped areas. But those spaces have their own inhabitants that interact with us and our pets, and as urbanization continues to cause more encroachment on these animals’ habitats, these interactions will happen even more. Coyotes, for example, are members of the dog family and are present all across Oregon. They are intelligent, resilient predators, and we provide them with an abundance of food without realizing it. Our garbage cans, compost heaps, backyard chickens and rodent infestations provide more than enough food to sustain urban coyotes. Coyotes usually hunt alone, and they are the definition of omnivores, eating everything from rats and snakes to berries.
This time of year, we might see more coyotes in our neighborhoods. They breed in February and have their pups about two months later. While pups are rearing, usually starting in April and May, the amount of food they require increases dramatically, and conflicts between humans and coyotes can occur.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has the following suggestions for minimizing issues with coyotes:
- Feed pets indoors and do not leave pet food outside
- Supervise pets when outside
- Do not leave small dogs or cats outside after dark
- Secure garbage and compost areas, building a coyote-proof fence if needed
- Bring chickens and other livestock into coyote-proof enclosures at night
- Minimize rodent infestations
- Never feed wild animals
Problems with humans tend to arise when coyotes move into residential areas where they can easily access food and shelter. Coyotes are generally wary of humans and will run when spotted. Coyote attacks on humans are rare but like any other wild animal, they can be unpredictable when cornered, sick or hurt. If you are concerned about a coyote’s behavior, please contact the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife field office by calling 503-947-6301. Keeping coyotes wary of humans is essential to preventing conflicts, so it is important to keep your distance.