Watch pets; coyote activity increases in winter

Posted at 1:31 PM, Feb 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-03 15:31:16-05

With recent reports of pet conflicts in the Denver metro area, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding residents that coyote activity increases in the winter, as coyotes pair up to breed.

The coyotes may be more territorial than usual and defend their space as they carve out a place to start their families, so citizens need to be aware of their presence, as well as the potential for conflict, CPW advises.

"In January and February, coyotes are focused on pairing up and finding a good location to give birth to and raise their offspring, so they become less tolerant of  people and pets in open space and parks, " said Jordan Likes, district wildlife manager for Westminster. "Unfortunately, coyotes can see our pets as (food), so pet owners need to be extra diligent about protecting their animals."

Coyotes are omnivores, which means they eat everything from bird seed to rodents, berries and garbage, and sometimes free-roaming cats and dogs.

"We hate to see citizens lose their pets to wildlife," added Likes, "but wildlife can't tell the difference between your dog and a skunk, raccoon, or other wild prey."

CPW recommends that all dog owners take the following precautions:

  • Always supervise your pet outside, especially at dawn and dusk.
  • Keep your dog on a short leash while recreating, even in areas where off leash is allowed—avoid retractable leashes.
  • Do not allow your dog to play or interact with a coyote.
  • If possible, pick up your dog when coyotes are visible.
  • Avoid potential den sites and thick vegetation.
  • If you must leave your dog outside, secure it in a fully enclosed kennel.

In addition, cat owners should recognize that the only way to guarantee your cat's safety is to keep it indoors. Outdoor cats also face potential death from cars, diseases, foxes, parasites, raccoons, dogs, and birds of prey, such as owls.

Although naturally curious, coyotes are usual timid animals and normally run away if confronted. However, more than 25 people have been bitten by coyotes in the Denver metro area since 2007.

Coyote attacks on humans are rare, and can usually be traced to people feeding them, a nearby den site being perceived as threatened, or the presence of another canine or pet in their presence. If a citizen feels a coyote or coyotes have behaved aggressively toward them, or they have been attacked by a coyote, they should report it to their local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office as soon as possible, and if injured, seek medical attention.

For more information on coyotes, visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.