CLACKAMAS, Ore. – Wildlife biologists for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have recently noted an increase in the number of coyote sighting calls in Portland and the surrounding areas.
Many people expressed surprise at seeing coyotes in an urbanized area. However, abundant green space in the Portland area provides not only a welcome respite for people but also some excellent habitat for wildlife. Coyotes flourish in these places because they are adept at finding food and habitat, even in the city.
Tactics for living with coyotes and reducing habituation include:
Reduce food sources – Secure garbage cans and compost, remove outside pet food (including water bowls), clean up decaying fruits and vegetables, and clean up under and around bird feeders to reduce attracting prey species. Do not intentionally feed wildlife.
Eliminate hiding places – Trim vegetation to reduce cover. Install motion sensitive outdoor lights.
Minimize attractive scents – Clean garbage cans with bleach or ammonia regularly. Keep barbeques clean.
Be aware of your surroundings – If you encounter a coyote don’t be timid or disregard it; make yourself appear larger, be loud, and be persistent. Use an air horn or other loud device. Give coyote plenty of opportunities to escape- do not corner it.
Educate family, friends, and neighbors – Small children should not be left unattended.
Children that are old enough should be taught to calmly contact an adult if a coyote is seen so the adult may scare the coyote away.
Protect pets – Coyotes can be active during the day and night; stay with your pet when outside. Ideally, keep cats indoors. Keep pets leashed and under your control.
Community collaboration to implement the advice listed above greatly increases the effectiveness. Removal of coyotes is not a solution, especially when attractants are still available.
Aggressive behavior by coyotes towards humans is rare, with attacks being even more uncommon, according to Amy Darr, ODFW wildlife biologist. Nevertheless, in the rare instance a coyote attacks a leashed pet or a person, immediately contact local law enforcement and ODFW at 503-621-3488 or 971-673-6000.
“Coyotes play an important part in urban ecosystems by managing wildlife and feral animal populations that may otherwise become pests or public safety concerns,” said Darr. “It is important for citizens to recognize their own role in these ecosystems by not encouraging habituation of wildlife.”
For more information visit ODFW’s “Living with Coyotes” page on-line.