Coyotes will often turn to artificial means of food to sustain themselves in environments where food is scarce. Urban and suburban areas have food sources provided by people and attract coyotes from their regular environments. Coyotes most frequently seek garbage as an easy meal and will not hesitate to enter a neighborhood when trash is exposed in a trash can or spills from a dumpster.
The next most attractive food is seed, suet, bread and other food left out for birds. Coyotes not only eat the bird food, but will also pursue the birds, squirrels, rats, mice and other animals attracted to the seed. Other food sources that are used by opportunistic coyotes include pet food, compost, rotting dropped fruit from trees, drippings from outdoor grills, domestic cats, and small breeds of dogs. Coyotes may also behave territorially if they feel one of these food sources are being threatened, this may involve attacking another dog that is equivalent or bigger in size or in rare cases growling at humans.
All wild animals are unpredictable and caution is the watchword when they are around. The United States Department of Agriculture has the following tips to discourage coyotes from entering your neighborhood and to keep your family and pets safe:
- Do not feed coyotes!! Nearly all wild animal bites occur when people attempt to feed them.
- Eliminate sources of water particularly during dry weather
- Bird feeders should be positioned so that coyotes can’t get the feed. Coyotes are attracted by bread, table scraps, seed, or even birds that come to the feeder
- Secure garbage containers and eliminate garbage odors
- Don’t leave small leave small children unattended outside if coyotes have been frequenting the area
- Don’t allow pets to run free. Keep them safely confined and provide secure nighttime housing for them. Walk your dog on a leash and accompany your pet outside, especially at night.
- Cut back brushy areas of your yard because these areas provide cover for coyotes and their prey.
- Close off crawl spaces under porches and sheds. Coyotes use such areas such areas for resting and raising young.
- Don’t let coyotes intimidate you. Don’t hesitate to scare off coyotes with loud noises, bright lights, or water sprayed from a hose.
- Pass this information along. Your efforts will be futile if your neighbors are providing food and shelter for coyotes.
If you see a coyote and it is behaving abnormally, such as circling, acting disoriented, salivating or shaking, residents are encouraged to call Orange County Animal Care Services at (714) 935-6848. For additional information about coyotes, please download the following information from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources by clicking here