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TPWD News Release — March 19, 2007

Experts Say Education Key to Solving Urban Coyote Problems

DALLAS, Texas — Seeing a coyote in the countryside is a part of nature, but when you spot one in your backyard, that’s a different story. As urban areas continue to expand and develop the rangeland that was once coyote habitat, sightings of the wild canine continue to grow, and so do the problems.

While injuries to people from coyotes are extremely rare in Texas, domesticated animals don’t tend to fare as well. Pet cats and small dogs left outside unattended may become easy meals for hungry coyotes.

While it is almost impossible, as well as impractical, for suburbanites to get rid of coyotes, it is possible to learn to live with and manage coyote problems, according to Dallas County Urban Wildlife Biologist Brett Johnson of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

At Texas’ first-ever Urban Wildlife Conference, “Managing Urban Wildlife: Planning for Success,” Feb. 20, Johnson explained that coyotes will not simply move out of an area because development moves in. In fact, human activities may unintentionally draw coyotes into an area.

“On a regular basis, cities and private industries try to remove coyotes from an area, but they are incredibly adaptable,” said Johnson. “In fact, a coyote can actually make a better living in an urban area than it can out in the country because there are more food resources available. Coyotes are here to stay.”

In order to coexist peacefully with the coyote, Johnson advocates a few simple steps. First and foremost, people need to be more aggressive toward coyotes in urban areas.

“If you see one, you should try to scare it,” he said. “They’re not out to hurt you, but if they get used to humans they have the potential to get bolder.”

Combining a loud voice with a negative physical impact increases the likelihood of deterrence.

“Either spray it with a water hose or literally throw something at it. Use a stick or a small rock or something that will create, in the coyote’s mind, a negative association with humans,” said Johnson.