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Ever Seen a Coyote
Have You Ever Seen a Coyote in Your Area?
We're Not Talking Wile E. Coyote!
Believe it or not, when we bought a home here in Vegas, the builder's contracts advised about the type of wildlife found in the desert. In truth, I was surprised there was not a disclaimer about the blazing heat.
When we first made the decision to move out west, we visited a development that was building in the middle of nowhere. Of course, there were houses and shopping centers nearby, but like many communities in the desert, they start off small and end big.
It's a common misconception that all that Vegas has to offer is gambling and heavy drinking on The Strip. I've even met a few people who were surprised that people actually lived here! Yes, it's true, there is civilization past Las Vegas Boulevard, as odd as it may seem.
Once you venture off, away from the few miles of casinos, you'll find parks, recreation, full residential communities, shopping centers and other developments. If you explore long enough, you might eventually see some wildlife, inclusive of coyotes.
There is a reason that some builders are required to disclose this information to buyers, as homeowners who are new to the area have expressed their surprise that there are potentially poisonous insects or vicious animals in the city. It's one way that the builders can protect themselves from lawsuits.
After living here for seven years, I've had dozens of coyote sightings right in my area, seconds from my house. I've also seen the remains of some jack rabbits that couldn't outrun them.
Some may think that you need to live on the very outskirts of the natural desert to have coyotes in your area, but that is simply not the case. I've seen them wandering around, not only on an intersection off a busy highway, but it was during the day as well.
On another occasion, my husband and I were walking our three retrievers at night and a coyote began walking right passed us, followed by three more that crossed directly in front of us, not more than ten feet away. Luckily, they looked our way, ignored us and kept walking. My heart knocked a bit loudly that night, but the coyotes didn't seem to care about us and for that I was grateful. While my dogs are large, they are not predators by any sense of the word, as Toffee won't even stand up to a Chihuahua, no less take on a pack of coyotes!
Recently, a neighbor of mine was not so lucky. On one horrific night, he left his four small dogs outside and left the house for a few minutes to go to the grocery store only minutes from his house. When he came home, one of his dogs was severely injured and another one...missing. The coyote climbed a six foot fence and snatched the dog from his own backyard. The only evidence was a trail of blood leading to the fence. It was fortunate that he came home when he did, otherwise that coyote would've been back for the other three.
It was the first I've heard of such a horrific attack, as while coyotes will scout a food source, there are many small animals in the area such as rabbits or mice that could easily satiate their appetite. While it wasn't completely out of character for a coyote, it was out of the norm for this area.
They Don't Only Exist in the Far Desert
Caution: Coyote Crossing
Coyotes are actually quite small in comparison to a wolf, weighing anywhere from thirty to fifty pounds. They have perfected the skill of observational learning and will remember wherever they've previously located a food source. It's is strongly advised that if you come into contact with a coyote, even if it appears friendly, do not feed it. They will remember it for life and come back for more. Once they no longer fear humans, they will not be as shy about lingering in residential areas.
This, in turn, leads to more attacks on domestic animals and small children. It's also advised not to leave food out in bowls or trash receptacles.
While attacks on humans don't happen too often, they definitely can occur.
Even though coyotes tend to feed on smaller animals such as rabbits and rodents, if they are starving they will do whatever they have to in order to survive.
In circumstances when they are famished, they may even try to attack a dog while the owner is holding its leash. Often, they paralyze or suffocate their prey as a means to killing it.
Coyotes are vocal animals and their howls can be heard from miles away, as I can attest from my yelling at them at 3 in the morning when their boisterous tones keep me awake at night. Okay, so I don't really yell at them, but I do hear them, loud and crystal clear. When the windows are open, I hear their howling, huffing, barking and yelping, so they are not exactly shy about making their presence known. It's a good indication that they are getting closer.
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Coyotes May Hunt During the Day
Though I have seen coyotes during the day, most of the time I've seen them after the sun has set for the evening or right before sunrise. Be aware that if you live in an area that shares its habitat with coyotes, that you may encounter one on an evening walk.
If you have dogs and absolutely must use a doggy door, make sure that your dog knows how to use it properly to get back into the house and that a coyote cannot fit through the door!
In addition, ensure that there aren't any holes underneath your fence. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that a fence in itself might not be tall enough to keep a coyote out of your yard. They have been known to jump fences that are over eight feet in height. We've all heard the old saying, where there is a will, there's a way...and if desperate, they will find a way. They have an excellent sense of smell and will actually scout out an area and learn routines.
For example, if you let Fido out at 8pm and he stays outside by himself until 10pm, your neighborhood coyote will record this in his predator brain and then pounce to feed as soon as opportunity knocks. They are quick and agile and typically have no issues whatsoever in their hunting abilities. While they can survive on fruits and berries, here in the desert, their pickings might be slim. During days of famine, they adhere to survival of the fittest.
In addition, coyotes travel in packs of two, but sometimes more. Even if you have a larger dog, he or she may not be up to fighting off an entire pack.
Personally, I refrain from using a doggy door and when we let our dogs out, I stay with them until they come in. A hungry coyote will do whatever it takes to acquire food.
If you live in or move to an area that has diverse wildlife, it's a good idea to know what precautions to take in order to protect yourself. In truth, we as humans are building on their land, and it is possible to co-exist, but we must remember they are not domestic animals. We should respect them, but be smart about protecting ourselves, our loved ones and our animals.
"Bringing awareness about dog adoption and rescue, one dog at a time!"
Author of Finally Home, Final Journey, Paw Prints in the Sand, Paw Prints in the Sand: Mission Accomplished, My Dog Does That!, Bark Out Loud, Unwanted Dreams, Phobia, Evil's Door and Faces of Deception. All books are available in Kindle and paperback format on Amazon.com.
© 2013 Elizabeth Parker