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Living with coyotes



RENO, Nev. — Like many communities across the West, those in Nevada have seen residential and commercial development reach into wild lands. As it has elsewhere, that development has had a direct impact on numerous wildlife species and their habitats. Ironically, while some species suffer from the impacts of urban development the wily coyote thrives.

From their original haunts, which extended from parts of north-central Mexico to southwestern Canada, coyotes have extended their range to nearly all of North America. Their range even includes urban centers like Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Wildlife officials at the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) are educating the public: coyotes have been here, they’ve adapted to our urban areas, and they prefer to avoid humans.

“The amazing thing about coyotes is their ability to adapt and adjust to changes in their natural environment and to the challenges of living in an urban environment. They can sometimes be seen roaming areas on the outskirts of cities and towns and even venturing into urban areas,” said Doug Nielsen, conservation education supervisor for the NDOW.

Popular drawing cards for Nevada homebuyers are golf courses, lush water-based landscape design and life on the edge of natural surroundings. What homebuyers often fail to realize is that these qualities are just as attractive to a variety of wildlife, coyotes and other predators that are already living in the areas bordering new developments.

“Oftentimes people buy homes on the desert’s edge so they can have a more natural experience, but they want to pick and choose what critters come to visit. It just doesn’t work that way,” Nielsen said. “Golf courses, landscaping with water features, and washes or other avenues that provide animals with direct access to and from open desert areas will sooner or later attract prey species such as squirrels, rabbits and birds. These species then become an attractant for coyotes and other predators looking for a meal.”

Though coyotes have been known to hunt and eat domestic pets, simply seeing one is not necessarily cause for alarm. Nor is it necessary to call NDOW. However, a call may be warranted anytime a coyote is showing threatening behavior towards people, especially children. The key to preventing possible conflicts with coyotes or other wildlife, according to NDOW, is to eliminate those things that attract them beginning with possible food sources.

Never feed coyotes and encourage your neighbors not to feed them. Wild animals quickly become habituated to humans as a food source. Store pet food inside and feed pets inside if possible. If a pet must be fed outside clean up any uneaten food. Be sure to cover garbage containers with a well-fitting lid.

Pets, especially small ones, should not be left outside unattended. This is especially true at dawn or dusk when coyotes are most active. If it is necessary to leave a small pet outside unattended consider keeping it in a sturdy enclosure with a roof. It’s also a good idea to trim or remove any ground-level shrubs and branches that could provide coyotes with a hiding place.

Should you encounter a coyote make loud noises, wave your hands or objects like a stick or broom, or spray the coyote with water from a garden hose. Don’t turn away or run because that may trigger the animal’s predator instinct, but don’t corner a coyote either. Give the animal room to escape. More information about living with coyotes can be found online at www.ndow.org.

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. For more information, visit www.ndow.org.

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