The coyote (Canis latrans) is native west of the Mississippi River, but has recently become common throughout the state of North Carolina - even in urban areas. The historic habitat of this species is generally harsh deserts and prairies. The eastward range expansion of the adaptable coyote is due primarily to human-induced factors, including the elimination of native red wolves (a coyote competitor) and the clearing of eastern forests for agriculture and other uses. The illegal release of coyotes in North Carolina for sport hunting also resulted in the establishment localized populations (Hill, et al. 1987). The first coyote was documented in North Carolina in 1938, but it wasn’t until the 1980’s and 1990’s, that coyotes successfully established themselves in counties throughout the state.
- Human / Coyote Interactions -
Coyotes can become tolerant of people and some coyotes may exhibit little fear. Encounters with coyotes should be treated the same as with any wild animal – simply keep your distance and leave them alone. Under normal conditions, coyotes do not present a danger to people. Simply sighting a coyote is not a cause for alarm and there is no need to call police or other authorities.
Rarely, coyotes can become aggressive if they feel threatened or are protecting young in their den. This aggression is most frequently directed toward dogs that wander too close. Diseased or injured coyotes might also display aggressive actions. In the event a coyote becomes aggressive, back slowly away while yelling and waving your arms. In some cases, throwing rocks or sticks might be an effective deterrent. Do not run. Call 911 as soon as possible to get help from Animal Control. Again, this is only for situations where a coyote is displaying abnormal or aggressive behavior.
- Coyote Safety Tips -
• Never approach or touch a coyote.
• Never feed coyotes or any wild animals directly or indirectly. Be sure to pick up outside food and water bowls once pets have been fed.
• Never approach a coyote den. They might respond as a dog responds when a stranger comes to its home / yard.
• Store trash in covered, heavy-duty animal-proof containers. Add ammonia to trash if animals have been raiding trash bins. Avoid open compost bins with food scraps.
• Remove thick brush and weeds around homes that may harbor rodents. The presence of rodents may attract coyotes.
• Keep cats and dogs inside as much as possible. Keep all dogs on a leash when walking them outside. Do not walk small dogs at dusk or at night. An unattended small dog or cat can be an easy prey item for a coyote.
• Be a threat: Chase away coyotes when you see them. Throw sticks, yell, wave your arms, or spray them with a hose to chase them away. This will help keep a den from being located nearby and will help them to maintain a level of fear towards humans.
• Fence off outside animal enclosures and include a top. Coyotes can jump a 6’ high fence.
• Enclose the bottoms of porches or decks and maintain outdoor storage sheds in a manner that prevents animals from using them for cover.
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