Webinar presenter Lynsey White answered a number of your questions after her presentation, Solving Problems with Coyotes. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: Will coyotes eat cat and dog poop?
Lynsey White: Wow. There’s a question I’ve never had! I don’t know the answer to that – perhaps! I do know that a good technique for encouraging coyotes to abandon their den (and move their pups elsewhere) is to put used huge clumps of kitty litter (the urine clumps) next to their entrance. That can effectively get them to move elsewhere.
Audience Question: Is there really such a thing as a Coyote Hybrid such as the Coy-Wolf?
Lynsey White: Yes. That’s a popular term that’s being circulated a lot these days (“Coy-Wolves”). And really what the term is referring to is not a combination of a coyote and a wolf. It’s really about coyotes that live in the North-Eastern part of the United States that have more wolf DNA in them. Coyotes have descended from wolves, so all coyotes have wolf DNA in them. But the ones in the North-Eastern part of the US tend to have more wolf DNA, and tend to be a bit larger. And because they’re larger, in some cases, they can take down larger prey like an adult deer. That’s really the only difference. They’re not any more aggressive towards people or pets. They’re nothing to be concerned about. That’s why I don’t really like the term “Coy-Wolf” because I think too many people reference this as a new breed of animal that they should be concerned about, but that’s really not the case.
Audience Question: Will a coyote be more likely to become comfortable with people after being treated for mange at a rehabilitation center and does that create issues when they’re released back to their common area?
Lynsey White: That is a good question. That is why treating mange can be a tricky issue and is best handled by a veterinarian or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Professional wildlife rehabilitators take great care to avoid the habituation of wildlife while in their care, and there is no evidence that having coyotes in wildlife rehabilitation facilities causes coyotes to become habituated to people and cause problems upon their release.
Audience Question: Can you touch on luring? Can you explain to the public that it’s a myth? Whether or not you have statistics on how often coyotes would pack to trap or rundown prey?
Lynsey White: The public often thinks that coyotes will work together to lure their pets out to attack them. Yes, that completely is a myth. Coyotes primarily hunt small mammals such as mice and rabbits, and do not hunt in packs. I think the reason that this comes up is that people see a group of coyotes near their pets and they think that is what’s going on. What probably or certainly is happening is that the coyotes are viewing that particular dog as a threat to their pups or their mates and they’re trying to send a message to that dog to stay away. That almost always happens with off-leash pets. It can be easily solved by keeping pets on a leash, being outside with them, or having them in an area with a coyote-proof fence. Also, every time someone sees a group of coyotes, that is a very, very good indication that they are feeling territorial about something. That they have a den nearby. Usually, it’s the case. Again, the best way to tackle that is to make sure that pets are kept on a leash six feet long or less or inside. But for instance, if there’s a situation where a person who’s walking their pet encounters a group of coyotes everyday, especially during the springtime, there’s a good chance that there’s a den nearby. In this case, they can haze the coyotes, certainly. But I would also suggest that they adjust their walking route for a month or two to avoid that particular area. Or if in a park, I would suggest directing people away from that area for a short period of time. Because when the mating season or pup season is over, then the territorial behavior will stop.
Audience Question: Can you talk about how often there is a conflict between coyotes and larger animals such as horses or even many horses and donkeys?
Lynsey White: That’s another good question and I don’t have a lot of information about conflicts between coyotes and horses. But I do know that coyotes are very afraid of donkeys. That is one of the reasons why donkeys make such great guard animals for livestock.
Audience Question: Is it more humane to dispatch a coyote with severe mange or to find rehab? Or are they put back into the pack after treatment?
Lynsey White: These questions about mange are very tricky. In terms of what is the most humane, it’s really a case by case basis and again, we recommend involving a professional wildlife rehabilitator to determine the best course of treatment. Fortunately, mange is a very treatable condition; the hard part is determining how to deliver that treatment to the animal. Coyotes are very hard to catch unless they are very ill, so treatment in the field is sometimes necessary.
Audience Question: Do you think that coyote vest is at all effective in protecting smaller dogs from coyote attacks?
Lynsey White: Oh, coyote vests. Okay. There is this vest that they make for small dogs that have a lot of spikes on it. It’s very interesting looking and I’m sure many of you have seen it advertised on Facebook or elsewhere. I don’t know how effective it is. I would assume that if a coyote attacks a small pet and they have this vest on, that they would think twice about it. But, you know, I certainly don’t have any scientific evidence that proves that is the case. I, myself, will always recommend that a small dog never be left outside unattended. Someone should be out there with the dog unless they have a coyote-proof fence. However, I realize that’s not possible for everyone, so I suppose it’s worth a try. But I certainly would not put my guarantee on it.
Audience Question: Can you talk a little about the use of snares?
Lynsey White: Sure. Any sort of snare or trap is a cruel and ineffective way to attempt to solve a conflict with a coyote. When these animals get trapped in these devices, they panic and they often end up causing more harm to themselves than even the traps do. Also, trapping removes a coyote that often have pups that may be left orphaned. Even if the males are there to help, it’s a permanent disadvantage. Not only is it inhumane for an animal but again, we would really like to focus on how ineffective it is for solving conflicts.
Audience Question: If “pepper spray” is a good tool to use on coyotes attack small pets, is it something you can talk a little bit about?
Lynsey White: If you are in a situation where a coyote is in the middle of attacking your pet, pepper spray may be effective for getting the coyote to drop your pet. But, I don’t have any actual evidence of it being effective. Squirting a water hose or making a lot of noise may be just as effective in that case. But if you’re not in that position, I definitely would not recommend pepper spray because that could disorient the coyote and cause an unpredictable outcome. I would recommend the hazing techniques described before definitely over the use of pepper spray in that situation.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Solving Problems with Coyotes.