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Desert Coyotes

Updated on September 15, 2013

Respect Coyotes

Coyotes should be respected, but don't feed them, as they can be very dangerous.
Coyotes should be respected, but don't feed them, as they can be very dangerous.

Ever Seen a Coyote

Have You Ever Seen a Coyote in Your Area?

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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

Coyotes may also travel on busy roads!
Coyotes may also travel on busy roads!

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.

Coyotes May Hunt During the Day

Keep your pets safe from coyotes!
Keep your pets safe from coyotes!

Prevent Attacks

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

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    • epbooks profile image
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      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Thanks Rebecca!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I appreciate this; I have dogs and live in the country. I will do my best to see that we all coexist. Thanks!

    • epbooks profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Joe- I had no idea that you had coyotes there too! They are beautiful creatures but definitely deserve respect as they can cause damage if they want to.

      Thank you so much for your comment. Love hearing from you!

      Liz

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      During my walk in Stanwood, WA, on my birthday, Liz, I was surprised to hear a pack of coyotes baying in the not so distant brush. It dawned on me that (sub)urban sprawl had infringed upon the wildlife boundaries.

      Peaceful coexistence is something I advocate, but sometimes that involves a necessary Proceed with Caution approach. Your determination to be protectively vigilant with your pets is an admirable stance.

      And, yes, there is no good or bad labeling necessary. Coyotes are just being coyotes. I like that you showed great respect to them throughout your article.

      Thank you for sharing this piece, Liz. Aloha, and have a mellow evening.

      ~Joe

    • epbooks profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Teaches12345 - There were so many when I first moved here. I don't mind seeing them as long as they don't attack. :) Thanks for commenting and have a great day!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 4 years ago

      The coyote population has increased in the midwest area. We used to hear them at night in the suberb. Your advice is excellent and hopefully will save many family pets.

    • epbooks profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Faith- I was so saddened to learn about that little dog. I can only imagine how horrified (and painful) that must've been. It made me hug my own dogs tighter.

      I'm glad that you grabbed Cookie and can't believe you saw a coyote and fox on the same day! How strange.

      I didn't realize that they could hop high fences either, but I read up on it and supposedly they do it without a problem. I don't mind seeing them in the desert, but if they were in my backyard, I wouldn't know what to do!!

      Have a great day and thanks so much for your comment and voting!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, how fascinating and you have given great advice here to bring awareness. So sad about the little dog being taken away! I cannot even imagine, although one morning, after we had just moved here to the country/small town, I was eating breakfast and saw a coyote with some critter in its mouth just walking past my window in my backyard! He was going around to the front, and I panicked as I knew if my Jack Rusell, Cookie, saw the coyote, she would try to attack it, and would not be on the good end of that fight! Thankfully, Cookie, was asleep just outside our door to the garage and she never woke up. Then about five minutes later I saw a red fox come around the other side of the house! I could not believe my eyes! That was about five years ago, and I have not seen any since then. Two in one morning seemed odd. I went and grabbed up Cookie. They were coming up from the back pastures behind our home and we have no fence.

      I had no idea they could climb over 8 foot fences! Amazing. I would have had a heart attack if I saw them, as you did while walking, especially being there was more than one!

      Up and more and sharing

      Blessings, Faith Reaper

    • epbooks profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Eddy - Thank you so much for commenting and sharing. It's always appreciated. Have a terrific day!

      Liz

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Oh so interesting and one I have to share onto my FB page A Brand New Dawn. I love anything to do with nature and this gem was indeed a treat.

      Eddy.

    • epbooks profile image
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      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      wetnosedogs. I do agree,they are certainly beautiful but they often don't play well with others! And you're so right. You wouldn't want Jenny to encounter one!

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

      Sensible hub.

      They are a beautiful creature, but we do need to respect them.

      I would hate to have Jenny, my youngest, walking and meeting a coyote. Jenny can act the bully at home, but I have seen her panic and I am afraid she would panic at the wrong time. And Mr. Coyote wouldn't understand I'm trying to calm her down, walk away,. Whew!

    • epbooks profile image
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      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Sheila- Oh, I forgot about the construction in our area as well. I think that is what kind of gets them in an uproar and brings them closer to residential areas. Their habitat is being built upon so they are running out of places to go.

    • profile image

      sheilamyers 4 years ago

      Great advice for how to act or respond to coyotes. I saw my first one here a few months ago. Now I think I know where all the stray cats have gone. I live far enough outside of town, seeing all types of wildlife is the norm. But even the people living in closer to Pittsburgh sometimes see bears walking through their neighborhoods. Maybe they just located the easy food source at the dumpsters or, as bravewarrior said, they may have been driven in by construction where the bears typically live.

    • epbooks profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      bravewarrior- Though I would love to see a bear, I think I'd be terrified. I've never seen one up close, except of course in the zoo. Thanks so much for commenting!

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

      Liz, we don't have coyotes here in Central Florida, but we do have black bears that have been driven from their natural habitats due to the ongoing practice of construction in this state. I've not seen one, but they have been reported close to where I live. All I can say is I'm glad my cats are indoor cats!

      Interesting article and, as always, very well written!

    • epbooks profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Thanks so much, DDE! There's a wolf-sanctuary nearby so I've heard, but I've never actually seen it. Thank you for commenting and voting!

    • epbooks profile image
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      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Thank you Bill! I don't mind them at all, as I am an animal lover for all of them. As long as they don't try to hurt my pups, then I will continue to admire from a distance. :)

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      helo epbooks a useful and unique hub on Desert Coyotes unfortunately we don't have them in Croatia instead we have fox and Wolves usually at night. Voted up, useful, and interesting

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Interesting as always Liz! We see them in town every once in awhile....and hear them many nights. I happen to love them as I do all of nature, but that is not a common response from the people I know. :)

    • epbooks profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      CraftytotheCore- oh wow. I haven't had a coyote in my backyard yet! We don't have foxes here. We do have bunnies and jack rabbits here, and I've seen the remains of both. I can't imagine watching them destroy them though. How sad! Thank you for your comment!

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 4 years ago

      Very interesting EP! We have red fox and coyote here. I've had coyote laying right smack in the middle of my back yard in a stream of sunlight. Red fox were rampant last year but I didn't see one this year.

      We used to have a lot of wild cotton tail bunnies. Those coyotes would catch them and dreadfully destroy them outside of my bedroom window. I got to the point that I would go outside with a 2x4 from my wood shop and bang it on a tree. They would run away.

    • epbooks profile image
      Author

      Elizabeth Parker 4 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      FLourishanyway - it's true- they are just 'being coyotes.' lol. I am not typically scared of them for just me, when my dogs are with me, I don't think they'd stand too much of a chance. I'm lucky they are bigger. Thanks for commenting!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      Whoa! This is really something. Although I guess they're really just doing what coyotes do, it's a little scary thinking how close humans and coyotes now intersect as we spread the boundaries of civilization outward into their territories. That poor doggie. Glad you and your dogs were safe on your walk. Must have been scary. Good hub!