In order to minimize the chances of close-contact encounters between residents and urban coyotes, the City wishes to remind residents of the importance of discouraging urban wildlife from becoming too comfortable around humans.
As always, we encourage residents to be cautious of coyotes and other forms of urban wildlife. According to Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD), coyotes live with and among people in all urban areas in Texas, including The Colony. Coyotes typically avoid people - and that's how it should be. In fact, people are often surprised to learn that coyotes are important predators in urban areas and keep other wildlife populations in check (especially rodents and rabbits but also skunks and raccoons).
However, coyotes are still wild animals and must be treated accordingly. They are also among the primary carriers of rabies. Taking responsible precautions throughout the community can allow people and coyotes to safely co-exist within our cities. We strongly encourage all residents to heed the following:
DO NOT FEED THE COYOTES
Not only is it a violation of city ordinance to feed wildlife (Article VI, Sec. 5-24), intentionally feeding coyotes can directly result in aggression towards people and other threatening behaviors. As stated above, coyotes typically avoid people but that could change if they learn to associate humans with food.
Also, don’t feed wildlife accidentally. Coyotes are opportunistic omnivores and will readily exploit any potential source of food. Because coyotes frequently eat rodents, anything that attracts rodents can also attract coyotes. The following actions can prevent coyotes from being attracted to your yard:
- Secure your trash receptacles;
- Keep pet food indoors;
- Sweep up fallen seed under bird feeders;
- Pick up fallen fruit from trees; and,
- Remove firewood or brush piles to avoid attracting rodents.
KEEP PETS SAFE
To keep pets safe, it is imperative that pet-owners do not allow pets to roam freely, including at city parks where leash laws apply. Pets that roam freely face many threats and may wind up missing, injured, sick, or killed. Pets are often injured or killed by cars or other domestic animals. Lastly, they may encounter a hungry wild animal that doesn’t discern a domestic pet from prey.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SEE A COYOTE
Do not panic if you see a coyote. As mentioned before, they occur in our cities. A sighting of a coyote acting appropriately and non-aggressively does not require a response.
However, if a coyote frequents an area, show them they are not welcome. “Hazing” a coyote, or showing it signs of aggression each time it is seen, will usually discourage its presence and helps to re-establish its fear of humans. Coyotes follow predictable patterns, and negative behavior can often be corrected. Examples of hazing include:
- Making loud noises such as yelling, clapping, blowing a whistle, hitting noisy objects together, or using an air horn;
- Waving hands, stomping feet, or jumping;
- Spraying water; and,
- Throwing small objects at the animal with the intent to hit.
Patrons of city parks (particularly those with lots of foliage cover and green space, such as Bill Allen, Stewart Creek Park, the Shoreline Trail and Turner Soccer Fields) should consider carrying along a hazing device like an air horn or a whistle on their walks or runs. If you encounter an aggressive coyote, notify authorities by calling 9-1-1. Aggressive behavior is not normal and could be a sign of an unhealthy or habituated animal.
Coyotes have been well studied in urban environments. Research shows that coyotes have predictable patterns of behavior that can sometimes be adjusted when they advance to more aggressive behaviors. Below are a few warning behaviors that can progress in coyotes that have become habituated:
- An increase in observing coyotes on streets and in yards at night;
- Coyotes approaching adults and/or taking pets at night;
- Early morning and late afternoon daylight observance of coyotes on streets and in parks and yards;
- Daylight observance of coyotes chasing or taking pets;
- Attacking and taking pets on leash or in close proximity to their owners, chasing joggers, bicyclists, and other adults;
- Seen at mid-day around children’s play area, school grounds, or parks; and,
- Coyotes acting aggressively towards adults in mid-day.
For more information about coyotes and urban wildlife in general, please contact The Colony Animal Services at 972-370-9250.