Like many states across the West, Nevada has seen residential and commercial development reach into wild lands. As it has elsewhere, that development has had a direct impact on numerous wildlife species and their habitats. Ironically, while some species suffer from the impacts of urban development, the wily coyote thrives.
From their original haunts, which extended from parts of north-central Mexico to southwestern Canada, coyotes have extended their range to nearly all of North America. Their range even includes urban centers like Los Angeles, Phoenix and Las Vegas.
Wildlife officials at the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) are educating the public about ways to assist homeowners in reducing and limiting impacts from these animals.
“The amazing thing about coyotes is their ability to adapt and adjust to changes in their natural environment and to the challenges of living in an urban environment. They can sometimes be seen roaming areas on the outskirts of cities and towns and even venturing into urban areas,” said Kevin Lansford, predator biologist for NDOW.
Popular drawing cards for Nevada homebuyers are golf courses, lush water-based landscape design and life on the edge of natural surroundings. What homebuyers often fail to realize is that these qualities are just as attractive to a variety of wildlife, coyotes and other predators that are already living in the areas bordering new developments.
“Oftentimes people buy homes on the desert’s edge so they can have a more natural experience, but they want to pick and choose what critters come to visit. It just doesn’t work that way,” said Lansford. “Golf courses, landscaping with water features, and washes or other avenues that provide animals with direct access to and from open desert areas attract prey species such as squirrels, rabbits and birds. These species then become an attractant for coyotes and other predators looking for a meal.”
Though coyotes have been known to hunt and eat domestic pets, simply seeing one is not necessarily cause for alarm, nor is it necessary to call NDOW. However, a call may be warranted any time a coyote is showing threatening behavior towards people, especially children. The key to preventing possible conflicts with coyotes or other wildlife, according to NDOW, is to reduce or eliminate those attractants such as pet food, garbage or areas where small game will hide.
Under no circumstance should you feed a coyote or any other wild animal.
How to Avoid Problems
With just a few common sense precautions, coyote/human negative encounters can be greatly reduced or eliminated.
- First, do not feed coyotes or any other wild animal. Providing food makes them dependent and they can lose their natural fear of humans. People who provide them with food run the risk of being bitten and increase the chance of their neighbors having a coyote issue. It is also positive reinforcement where the animal is rewarded for being in close contact with humans.
- Do not corner the animal, such as in a garage. Give it plenty of opportunity to escape. Do not let your pets harass them; they are very capable fighters. If a fight between your pet and a coyote starts, do not use your own hands or feet to separate them. Try to use a weapon such as a walking stick to break up the fight. Many reported bites are just as apt to be from the dog itself as the coyote. If you are ever bitten by a coyote, immediately report the incident to local health officials. If the offending animal cannot be captured and tested for disease, seek professional medical advice.
- Keep pet food out of the coyote’s reach and secure garbage cans. Coyotes are opportunistic and will make a meal of pet food or table scraps that are left in unsecured containers. If a dog or cat is fed outside, bring uneaten food inside as soon as the pet has finished eating. Place trash in a secure container so that it is unavailable to coyotes.
Abide by leash laws and avoid letting dogs and cats roam freely. Coyotes kill and eat small dogs and house cats.
- Work with your neighbors to make your neighborhood undesirable to coyotes. If coyotes are frequenting your neighborhood, you can be certain that they are being fed or are finding food. Work with your neighbors to eliminate food sources that are bringing the animals into the neighborhood.
- Be supporting of animal control and wildlife agencies that are working to manage coyotes and other wildlife and domestic animals.
- House small livestock in pens or coops.
- Frightening devices such as motion sensitive bright lights and noise makers have limited effectiveness.
- Exclusions, other than chain link fencing buried a foot underground and at least 5 feet above ground, are difficult and expensive due to the coyote’s abilities to jump and dig.
Problem individuals can be trapped for removal by government agencies or private pest control companies if an animal has been killed or damage has occured.
- Modify habitat to reduce and eliminate hiding areas for prey. Habitat modifications are the best method of reducing or eliminating the prey base and their food sources. Remove brush to help eliminate hiding places for both predator and prey. Junk piles or wood and slash piles are excellent cover for not only the predators but sometimes the prey they seek such as rabbits, rodents and squirrels.
For more questions download the Coyotes in Nevada pdf below.