Coyotes In The Neighborhood

When I first moved to Victory Heights in 2009 I was walking up NE 100th Street early one evening when I looked up the street to see a silhouette of what appeared to be a dog standing at the top of the rise. I was maybe 100 yards away from it at the time, but I noticed it had really pointed ears and I thought, “That’s a really funny looking dog.” It noticed me and then took off, which is when I realized I had seen my first coyote! I should point out it’s the ONLY one I’ve seen so far, outnumbered by many racoons over the years and of course the ubiquitous cats that live in our neighborhood.
There’s been some concern lately about coyotes getting at pets, particularly as Terri Bell (the goat lady) reported one of her ducks went missing just before Thanksgiving. A number of cats have disappeared recently as well.
Meanwhile, Google, in an attempt to aggregate all knowledge, hosts a convenient NW Coyote Tracker website if you spot one.
Aaron tracked down a coyote biologist at the USDA Wildlife Service named Matt Stevens who said our neighborhood experience with urban coyotes is rather typical (occasional sightings, missing cats, missing small animals), and doesn’t warrant intervention at this time.  But we should keep a sharp eye out for escalating behavior.
Matt’s advice for our urban setting:

  • If you witness brazen, aggressive behavior towards humans or pets, call 911.
  • If you see a coyote, get “big”, stand tall, throw rocks, make noise, scare it away.  But don’t put yourself in harm’s way.
  • If you see a coyote, report it (when, where, how many, what were they doing).  Advise you neighbors for their protection (block watch email/blog is great).
  • Prevent attracting them, keep pet food inside.  Don’t feed coyotes.  Conceal garbage.
  • Keep you animals indoors, especially at night.  Coyotes are most aggressive from fall to early spring due to mating season.
  • See attached coyote fact sheet flyer for more insight.

And if it escalates, intervention methods are available from the USDA Wildlife Service. They will come assess the situation, inform option.  There is a fee for performing intervention, roughly $400-$800 depending on the situation.
Finally, Melinda Frye recalls, “I grew up across the lake next door to St. Edwards Park, which has a high population of ‘urban’ wild life. Occasionally, you would hear a coyote or a pack howl or hear of a missing pet, but they tended to stay away from humans (assuming a human was not foolishly trying to make ‘friends’).  In my entire youth, growing up on the border of St. Ed’s, with the woods going up to our back door, (perhaps I was oblivious as a teen) I never ever saw one walk in to the neighborhood that I lived in. The raccoons were way more brazen and vicious (and I’ve seen several of those in our hood). The other thing I remember, is everyone who did actually see them (before the coyote would run off) said they were mixed with other breeds. They looked like coyote and beagle or lab, etc.  So just remember to be cautious when approaching a stray, anyways. It would make sense that we might have a coyote population with our wooded area, though I am not inclined to worry. More likely they are keeping the raccoon and rat population down in Thornton creek/the watershed area.”

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