We live in coyote country. Although we very rarely see a coyote, evidence of the coyotes is widespread, if you know what you’re seeing.
Unfortunately many people who are new to an area, whether they’ve recently relocated or they’re just visiting, don’t realize that they’re in coyote country.
Sadly, we see many posts on Nextdoor and other forums from new arrivals in nearby suburban areas who are missing beloved pets after letting them out in the evening, or are curious about the howling they hear at twilight.
Because the coyotes in our area are rarely seen, many people don’t realize just how common they are, and therefore they don’t take the proper precautions for their pets. If you think you might be in coyote country, here are five clues:
You spot what looks like dog poop on a rock or in the middle of a trail or road.
The size and shape may lead you to believe that the feces are from a dog whose person neglected to scoop the poop–but its location atop a rock or sitting right in the middle of a trail (or atop a rock in the middle of a trail…score!) spells coyote.
Coyotes want everyone around to know their presence so, while your dog may opt for the side of the trail as a potty, the coyote will choose to be front and center.
You notice poop at an intersection.
Coyotes like to mark intersections–that can be the intersection of two trails, a trail and a road, a driveway and a road, you name it.
Look for scat at intersections (again, in the middle of the intersection).
When multiple coyotes are in the area, it’s common to see a pile of scat as each contributes to the “signpost.”
At our house, they frequently leave droppings where our drive intersects with the dirt road as well as at every trail intersection. Tiki is not amused.
You see degraded poop that looks like a hairball–or filled with seeds.
After the droppings have weathered for a couple of days, you’ll see what looks more like an old hairball than aged dog poop.
The concentration of fur in the coyote’s diet passes through his system and is easily seen after a few days.
Similarly, I often see coyote poop filled with seeds (or mesquite beans) that could not be digested.
You hear what sounds like children pretending to be coyotes.
When we first started hearing coyotes in our valley, I would have sworn it was children pretending to be coyotes–except there were no children living nearby. The yipping and howling often sounds far more like people imitating coyotes than real calls.
While coyotes are often vocal in the evenings and throughout the night, also listen for coyotes whenever you hear an emergency siren. Fire trucks and other emergency vehicles, even those barely audible to us, always launch a round of coyote howling here, any time of day.
You are walking in North America.
Whether you’re in a city, suburb, or a rural area, if you’re in North America, you’re in coyote country! These animals are highly adaptable, and their population has spread far and wide.
Take proper precautions for your pets. Stay current on vaccinations (if bitten, see our post on what to do if your dog is bitten by a coyote).
Walk your dog on leash (not a long retractable). Among my dog walking essentials, I carry pepper spray as well as citronella spray in my dog walking bag.
At home, supervise your dog in your yard, never leave food outdoors and keep your cats indoors at all times.
Then enjoy the coyotes for the wildlife that they are. These wild relatives of our own dogs can be appreciated and the evidence of their presence observed as you and your dog safely enjoy your daily dog walks.