Here are some frequently asked questions on issues and concerns, including personal safety, about urban coyotes.
Coyotes can be rabid. However, the Bexar County records show an extremely low occurrence of rabid coyotes in the state.
Small children are at risk from coyotes; however, in Texas, there have been no reported incidents of coyote attacks. Children over the age of 5 or 6 generally play in groups and are too large to attract a coyote’s interest. Children under 5 years old should be well supervised at all times, especially when near a pool, around streets, with domestic dogs, or where wildlife may be a concern.
On rare occasions, bold coyotes have bitten humans.Although naturally curious, coyotes are usually timid animals and normally run away if challenged. Coyotes are a risk to people once they become comfortable around humans, usually as a result of feeding and/or indifference. When this occurs, coyotes lose their natural fear and learn to see humans, their yards, and their pets as food sources and safe havens. It is not normal for coyotes to attack or pursue humans, especially adults; it is a learned response to human indifference. You must aggressively discourage coyotes from feeling comfortable around you and your family by eliminating coyote attractants (food sources) from your yard and encouraging your neighbors to do the same.
Even if the above methods don’t appear to be working, continue and exaggerate them. Do not turn away or run. Keep constant eye contact with the coyote and continue to move toward other people, a building or an area of activity. These techniques will generally frustrate even a bold coyote.
It is crucial to understand the importance of a unified neighborhood effort. If there is a regular coyote food source in one yard on your block, there will be coyotes active throughout the neighborhood. The elimination of any potential food source is essential to keep the coyotes from becoming dangerously comfortable around humans. High fences (7 ft.+) flush to the ground discourage coyotes from entering yards. It is of equal importance to recognize that an indifferent attitude toward a coyote in your yard has the same effect as feeding it. If a coyote is in your yard, it is imperative that you make the animal aware that it is not welcome. Coyotes are most likely to be frightened by aggressive gestures, loud noises and large forms. Coyotes have been scared off of properties by people waving sticks or brooms at them, throwing stones or cans at them, clanging pots and pans in their direction, or by having the following homemade coyote deterrents thrown or moved in their direction.
The combination of the light reflecting on the foil and cans, the noise made by the clanging of the cans and the aggressive gesture of shaking/throwing the cans provides several deterrents which affect the coyote’s visual (reflective light), aural (sound of metal), and motion (fear of being struck) senses simultaneously, thereby scaring the animal away. Don’t stop at your property line. Having a coyote in your neighbor’s yard is the same as having one in your own.
Coyotes can easily get over a 6-foot fence (some individuals even higher). Eliminating the coyote’s ability to get a grip on the top of the fence or wall is the best means of prevention. Installing a PVC pipe that is free to spin a round a tight wire is a good method to use.
See www.coyoteroller.com for an example of this method.
Dogs most likely to come into conflict with (or be endangered by) coyotes are typically cat size or smaller. To ensure your pet is safe, the best action is to supervise it at all times when it is outside and make sure it is off leash only in enclosed areas. There have been reports of coyotes taking small dogs not only in the vicinity of their owner, but also (rarely) directly off the leash. If you notice a coyote when walking your small dog, let the coyote know you are there and either gather your dog in your arms, or keep it as close to you as possible while using some of the deterrents described previously. Move toward an area of human activity. If your dog is off leash for some reason (a bad idea and illegal in San Antonio), ensure that it has immediate recall response, not only to eliminate potential contact or conflict with coyotes, but to prevent problems with other dogs and people as well.
The only way to ensure that your cat is safe from coyotes and other perils is to keep it indoors permanently. Some owners ensure their cat’s safety by building outdoor enclosed cat runs. The more time, your cat spends outdoors the greater the risk it faces, not only from coyotes and other wildlife (owls, hawks, etc.), but also from cars, domestic dogs, and parasites, as well as feline AIDS, leukemia, and other diseases.
With the appropriate state authorities, ACS can investigate and set humane traps, in order to capture any coyotes that remain in the area. ACS will also be available to speak to the neighborhood association or individual residents to educate citizens and answer any citizen concerns. To report a coyote sighting or to request a trap, please call 311.