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Coyotes and Hazing
Jeff Long, August 6, 2012 | Police Blog
I am not sure if it is a blessing or a curse that during my tenure as Chief, one of the most talked about topics has been coyotes. The talk has not been as much about drugs, drunk driving or violent crime, as it has been about coyotes. When I went to college for law enforcement, I did not take any animal courses, nor did I think as Chief of Police, I would need to learn about the coyote habitat. However, with that said, I have learned a great deal about this animal. Many cities throughout the United States co-exist with coyotes. They are not going away and we must learn to live with them, too.
There are a lot of opinions about what we should do with coyotes. Some people love them, feed them and want them to prosper in our city. Some people want them shot on site, and some people just want to learn about them. The toughest part of my job is that each person who calls, emails or writes me feels that their opinion on coyotes is the right one.
Whether or not we like the answer, the best solution is hazing. This is the opinion of the USDA, the Humane Society of the United States, and numerous academic studies on the animal. The most important piece of data is that hazing works.
We have spoken to animal control authorities in states that have traditionally had large populations of urban coyotes such as Illinois, California, Colorado and Arizona. We have had conversations with authorities as far away as Washington State and British Columbia. All say the same thing: you must continue to keep the coyote’s natural fear of humans at the forefront. The best way to do that is to haze them. They are not going away.
The longest standing study on urban coyotes in the world was completed in Cook County, Ill. This study, just like almost every study you will read, indicates that public education is key. Here is a snippet of their conclusion:
“Effective control programs target nuisance coyotes, rather than targeting the general coyote population. Coyotes removed through control efforts or other causes are quickly replaced. Successful management programs also include public education and outside consulting.”
Coyotes can become accustomed to humans and begin to move closer. That is when they start attacking small pets. Without going into great detail, they learn by watching their parents and other coyotes in the population. The more comfortable they see other coyotes, the more comfortable each generation becomes with humans.
If you see a coyote, keep your distance and do not approach the animal. Use a loud, authoritative voice to frighten the animal, blow a whistle or throw objects toward them. The purpose of these activities is to keep the fear of humans alive in the animal.
There are many reasons we don’t trap or shoot coyotes. Basically, it does not work. Coyotes are not just in Edina. They live throughout the entire metropolitan area. Picture Edina as a piece of corn in a funnel. If you pick one piece of corn out, the rest of the corn will fill in the space. I use this example because coyotes are territorial. If you remove one, others will move in. Study after study shows this.
The other issue of removing/killing coyotes relates to their reproduction. When a coyote population is stressed, biology induces the female to birth more pups. In addition, typically the Alpha male is the male that mates. If you kill the alpha male, the other males will move in and try to take over that role, which again creates a larger population.
I live in Edina and I have coyotes in my neighborhood. I have a small Cock-a-Poo dog. I don’t like coyotes in my neighborhood any more than anyone else. We are doing what the experts tell us and we need everyone to work together to make this work.
I know this blog will generate quite a few comments. Please remember, I am not making this stuff up. Some of it may not seem to make sense, but we must rely on the experts. It is what works.
With all of that said, if you have a particularly aggressive coyote in your area, we will hire a wildlife management company to try and dispatch the animal. There are no guarantees they will catch it. Coyotes are difficult to trap and can be very difficult to shoot in an urban setting.
We will again be hosting more educational seminars on urban coyotes. Please keep an eye on our website for more information. They will start up again toward the end of August.
If you are interested in learning more about coyotes, please contact our Animal Control Officer, Tim Hunter, at 952-826-0494.