Coyotes? Expert says haze them

Jan. 24, 2013 @ 03:21 PM

Some people are scared to death of them. Others think they’re kind of cute and interesting to watch.
But as coyotes have taken up residence in Orange County, many people aren’t sure what to do when they see one.
On Wednesday evening at the Orange County Animal Services Center  on Eubanks Road, people squeezed into a small conference room to hear from Lynsey White Dasher, an urban wildlife specialist for The Humane Society of the United States.
So many people showed up for the session that people were turned away at the door, and Dasher agreed that she would hold a second session after the first one concluded for those who weren’t able to get into the room.
Dasher told the group that coyotes are extremely smart and that they’ll test people to see what they can get away with.
If people see a coyote in their yard and just watch it, then the coyote will know it’s OK to come into the yard. If a person leaves food or water outside for their dog or cat, the coyote will learn that’s a good place to find food or water.
Many people say, “The first time I saw a coyote, I just stood there and watched him and thought it was neat,” Dasher said.
“What that is teaching that coyote is ‘I’m nothing to be afraid of. I can stand there and nothing will happen,’ ” Dasher said.
Coyotes take the information back to their families about where to find food and where they’re welcome and not welcome.
“They say, ‘Hey, did you know Susie put food in her yard and you can go eat it?’ ” Dasher said.
Dasher told the people they need to start a hazing program to rebuild the natural fear coyotes have of humans. They should have some noisemakers handy, maybe a whistle, maybe some pots and pans to bang together, an old soda can with pennies in it. A hose or a squirt gun works well, too, she said.
Then when someone sees a coyote come into their yard, they need to first make sure the coyote sees them and then make noise and scare it away.
One woman in the audience called out that she encountered a coyote, yelled and screamed at it and even threw her backpack at it, but it didn’t move.
That behavior turns out to be typical, Dasher said. A habituated coyote will wait to see if the person stops, and if the person does, then it knows nothing will happen to it. But if the person becomes more aggressive, walking toward the coyote while making the noise, it should turn and run away, she said.
The next time the coyote shows up, it shouldn’t take as much effort, and usually by the third time, the coyote will run away as soon as the person begins to haze it, she said.
Some people fear a coyote might bite or attack, but getting bitten by a coyote is rare, she said. Usually it occurs when a person is trying to feed a coyote or when a person is trying to separate a pet and a coyote.
If people are worried about their pets, they should take care of their pets or chickens. Don’t allow them to run free, keep them confined behind a 6-foot high fence and walk them on a short leash, she said.
Small children should be taught that if they see a coyote, they should call out for an adult for help and slowly back away. They shouldn’t run because that could stimulate the coyote’s instinct to chase, Dasher said.
Hunting, trapping or killing coyotes may solve the problem in the very short run, but coyotes manage their populations through breeding, and if their families lose members, they will just give birth to more pups, she said.
A study shows that after seven years of killing coyotes in a study group, it only took them eight months before their population was the same as a group that had not been hunted and killed, she said.
“If you kill a certain number of coyotes in a population at once, those that are left will just have more pups,” Dasher said.
Relocation, as a supposedly humane way of dealing with a coyote, also doesn’t help, since a relocated coyote is more likely to get hit by a car or die because it is in unfamiliar territory. Also relocation is not legal in North Carolina, she said.
For more information on how to deal with coyotes, people may go to: www.humanesociety.org/animals/coyotes. Or people may contact Orange County Animal Services at 919-967-7383.