Coyotes Just not a Danger in the Country

Posted January 17th, 2012 by kerri and filed in small house living
Tags: , , ,

Congratulations to Bonnie, who won the copy of “The Last Place You’d Look.” Congratulations to Bonnie and thanks to every­one who entered and thanks to Carole Moore for pro­vid­ing the copy of the book for the con­test! ___________________________________________________________________________________


Molly and Dale


In search­ing for mate­r­ial for a pet col­umn I pen every other week, I found this story about a Maltese named Jake who lived with his own­ers in a sub­ur­ban Washington state home.

They returned from work one night to find his decap­i­tated body under their deck. Jake had access to the out­doors through a doggy door, a con­ve­nience many work­ing pet par­ents have for their four legged fam­ily members.

Jake’s fam­ily home backed up to woods, accord­ing to news arti­cles and although Jake’s own­ers first thought it was a human who had entered their yard and killed their dog, vet­eri­nar­i­ans who exam­ined Jake’s body said it was coyotes.

Although I know coy­otes will kill small pets, I had no idea that dur­ing mat­ing sea­son, they will kill ani­mals they feel are rivals, tak­ing the heads of their prey and bury­ing them elsewhere.

Dakota with her Bo-Bo

We never left our dogs out in the yard of our sub­ur­ban home. When I was a young adult and also had Maltese, they remained crated dur­ing the day, as I could go home dur­ing lunch. Later, when I worked too far away from home, we left our dogs on hard floor­ing with newspapers.

While it was tempt­ing to install a doggy door, we were more afraid of “bunch­ers,” peo­ple who steal unat­tended dogs to sell to research laboratories.

When our neigh­bor­hood was the vic­tim of a series of day­time home inva­sions at one point, we even installed an alarm to fur­ther pro­tect our minia­ture Dachshund, Hershey, who, at that time, was an only doggy child.

We def­i­nitely also do not allow our small dogs out here in the rural area. Neighbors have told sto­ries of a Dachshund being picked up by a huge hawk and we are of course, aware of the nor­mal wild preda­tors such as bears, coy­otes and even moun­tain lions, which we believe took our Emma from us.

After learn­ing of the increased dan­ger dur­ing coy­ote mat­ing sea­son, we will def­i­nitely be even more on the alert.

Do you live in a sub­urb where coy­otes have been sighted? Were you aware of the increased dan­ger to pets dur­ing coy­ote mat­ing sea­son? Do you have a doggy door or do you keep your dogs in the yard when you’re not at home?  

29 Responses to “Coyotes Just not a Danger in the Country”

  1. […] came across a post today regard­ing pets and coy­otes. A cou­ple had let their lit­tle Maltese have free access to an out­door pen when they weren’t […]

  2. Merr says:

    We live in so Cal, the sub­urbs (devel­oped) and on more than one occa­sion I've seen coy­otes near the mail­box, walk­ing down the side­walk and cross­ing the street. I under­stand they fol­low the water, and we live near a wash (river chan­nel). In our area there are also — yikes — moun­tain lions, that have on occa­sion been spot­ted in neigh­bor­hoods. One neighbor's cat was a vic­tim of a coy­ote attack, and it was so so sad. The coy­otes come look­ing for food (that is what they do, after all) and cats can't defend them­selves (or dogs, for that mat­ter) against that kind of instinct/drive. I do worry when I see cats outside.

    • kerri says:

      Yes, it is not good for cats (or wild birds) to have out­door cats, although I do under­stand, if they're used to being out­side, how hard it is to keep them in.

  3. I'm not a fan of pet doors for a num­ber of rea­sons, includ­ing this risk from wildlife. It hap­pened to one of my sister's neigh­bors a cou­ple of years ago. They were out of town. Family was check­ing in on their small dog, and they found a few pieces of him on the back patio. The coy­otes in a sur­bur­ban area, devel­oped back in the 1960s got him. I think the ones "in town" are more aggres­sive than the ones we have here in the rural com­mu­nity where I live. Not that coy­otes don't kill dogs and cats here, but they are much more skit­tish of peo­ple or get­ting too close to the houses.

    • kerri says:

      Oh, that poor dog, Roxanne. Horrible. I also read that coy­otes will note sched­ules, if a dog or cat goes out at a cer­tain time, that's when they stalk. I also agree with your assess­ment regard­ing rural vs. sub­ur­ban coy­otes. I think as with us humans, the more of us they encounter, the less skidish they are.

  4. Jane Boursaw says:

    We do have coy­otes here in Michigan, and also bob­cats and bald eagles. There's even been a few cougars spot­ted. Would def­i­nitely keep a close eye on the pets if we had any.

  5. We lost one of our cats to a coy­ote grow­ing up. Poor cat didn't go out­side very often. When we vis­ited the area again recently, some­one warned me not to walk my dog at twi­light. I guess the coy­otes will approach dogs on leashes even.

  6. Alfredo says:


    I live in Decatur GA, the city adja­cent to Atlanta and have a minia­ture pin­scher named Pepe. Even in an urban envi­ron­ment we have large red hawks that fly over­head and live accross the street from us in a small patch of woods. I was walk­ing Pepe through these woods when a large hawk swooped down on us and buzzed Pepe. Fortunately nei­ther of us was harmed. It doesn't just hap­pen in rural areas…

    • Kerri says:

      What a scary expe­ri­ence, Alfredo. I'm so glad you're both ok. The Doxie I men­tioned in the post was dropped and recov­ered, but you're right, these types of things just don't hap­pen in the rural areas either.

  7. Donna Hull says:

    I didn't know that about coy­otes and mat­ing sea­son. They are cer­tainly a threat to small pets. I've heard many sad sto­ries in Tucson, even of a pet being taken while the owner was stand­ing right there.

    • Kerri says:

      I've heard of that as well, Donna. It was a cat and the coy­ote sup­pos­edly just ran through the yard and grabbed it up while four peo­ple were stand­ing just feet away.

  8. […] came across a post today regard­ing pets and coy­otes. A cou­ple had let their lit­tle Maltese have free access to an out­door pen when they weren’t […]

  9. Cynthia M. says:

    Kerri — Great arti­cle. You're right — it's dev­as­tat­ing to lose a beloved pet to preda­tors of any kind. The best thing we can do is to teach each other how to live safely around ALL wildlife.

    It's easy to vil­lian­ize preda­tors (a la V. Schoenwald's com­ments above) but as sev­eral peo­ple here have already pointed out, they are a VERY impor­tant part of our nat­ural world — despite what some peo­ple want to believe — and if we have any hope of liv­ing with a nat­ural world that's even remotely in bal­ance, preda­tors need to be in the mix. Deer and elk — the prey species of the "bad­dest of the bad" preda­tors, coy­otes and wolves — have been know to wreak their own havoc in com­mu­ni­ties where their pop­u­la­tions go unchecked. And no, human hunt­ing (which I'm fully in sup­port of) isn't enough to con­trol those populations.

    I have many ref­er­ences on liv­ing with coy­otes (which is applic­a­ble to all wildlife) on my web­site if any­one wants to see what more they can do to keep them­selves and their pets (and their neigh­bors) safe: http://​with​y​windle​na​ture​pro​grams​.com/​t​h​e​-​e​a​s​t​e​r​n​-​c​o​y​o​t​e​/​l​i​v​i​n​g​-​w​i​t​h​-​c​o​yotes/.

    Thanks again Kerri — great arti­cle, and great blog!

    • Kerri says:

      Thank you, Cynthia. I com­pletely agree. I'm one that has always believed there is a chain for the nat­ural order of things and that chain is typ­i­cally only bro­ken, or ani­mals (or insects) become pests when we humans have done some­thing to dis­con­nect the chain.

  10. Sheryl says:

    There are coy­otes in my neigh­bor­hood; in fact, we spot­ted one recently strolling down the block, right in the mid­dle of the street. My neigh­bor told me a bunch of them took down a deer in her front yard, and came back each night to fin­ish it off. I am always sur­prised that know­ing this, most of my neigh­bors leave their dogs out on invis­i­ble fences all day. When I hear the coy­otes howl­ing, or a dog squeal­ing, I'm always sure there is some­thing bad in the works…

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, my, Sheryl. I know it is nat­ural and all but I don't think I could have taken the whole deer meal in the yard thing. It is shock­ing that peo­ple leave their dogs out. I'm not a fan of invis­i­ble fences any­way, which require shock col­lars to work.

  11. Our dog is sev­enty five pounds of mus­cle and she is light­en­ing fast (espe­cially con­sid­er­ing her size.) I don't worry about her and she roams freely in our rural area. My par­ents lived on a farm for many years and they lost at least two dogs to coy­otes, but both were small. Their large dogs never were attacked. Coyotes are oppor­tunists and I don't think they're look­ing to take on an ani­mal that could kill or injure them, but would rather snatch smaller dogs who can't defend them­selves, or older dogs who are slower and less agile.

    While I sym­pa­thize with any­body who has lost a pet to coy­otes, I rec­og­nize that they are also a part of wilder­ness, of the eco-system, and are act­ing on instinct and hunger, not mali­cious­ness. They also kill rodents like rats and mice and keep those pop­u­la­tions under con­trol on prairies and in tim­ber areas. And I must also admit that I love going out­side at night and hear­ing their mourn­ful cries echo­ing through the night. It always gives me chills and a cer­tain sense of won­der that wild crea­tures like that still roam the countryside.

    • Kerri says:

      Unfortunately, as with every­thing else, humans have man­aged to screw up the habi­tat of these ani­mals, dri­ving them closer to sub­ur­ban areas, where peo­ple have a false sense of secu­rity from such things. I some­times like lis­ten­ing to the coy­otes, but they can be quite eery as well, espe­cially when it is so dark and I have to get from the stu­dio to the house! ;)

      • I can under­stand that on a walk, even a short one, at night through the woods, their howls might not be so thrilling but more chill­ing instead! And I think you're right, Kerri. It's the con­stant push of devel­op­ment and urban­iza­tion that has brought these wild ani­mals into the back­yards of sub­ur­ban­ites where they now are prey­ing on pets.

        Missouri used to have a bounty on them but stopped for a cou­ple of rea­sons, none hav­ing to do with envi­ron­men­tal­ists. The main one was money, the state sim­ply can no longer afford to pay for coy­ote pelts as they are easy prey and plen­ti­ful for hunters to kill. The other rea­son for dis­con­tin­u­ing boun­ties is that it didn't work. No mat­ter how much money was spent, coy­ote num­bers increased. It was an expen­sive and non-effective way to deal with them.

  12. Alexandra says:

    Did not know of this dan­ger. Since last year, we have fisher cats on Cape Cod. They are sup­pos­edly even worse preda­tors than coyotes.

  13. Heather L. says:

    Coyotes have been spot­ted in nearby neigh­bor­hoods. I will def­i­nitely be more vig­i­lant when our dogs are out in the fenced backyard.

  14. V Schoenwald says:

    Since the trailer park where I live is very close to the edge of town, yes, I have coy­otes, and have seen them in town.
    Coyotes are now get­ting very brazen in their tat­ics and behav­ior, and have a few of their pelts hang­ing in my home from hunt­ing excur­sions.
    They used to fear man, now they laugh and raid.
    Because of the greens, the bounty on preda­tors is no more, and their non exis­tence con­trol has only made things more dan­ger­ous. We have had inci­dents where run­ners and jog­gers have come into con­tact with them on their morn­ing runs and the rabies prob­lems are get­ting out of con­trol.
    I do not let my dog out of my sight, period, from 4 legged or 2 legged preda­tors. I am out with her to go potty and if its nice out­side, I have a small enclosed area I have eye con­tact with and earshot. I trust noth­ing or no one around here.

  15. Rick says:

    We have 4 Brittanies that are inside while my wife and I are at work. There have been very few indoor acci­dents. Once home, the dogs are put out into a small fenced area which has a gate to the rest of our acre. If I'm work­ing in the Big back­yard, they are allowed to join me. We back up against a large oper area and often hear coy­otes in the dis­tance. To date, we haven't had any con­cerns, near sight­ings or issues with the yotes.

    • Kerri says:

      Rick, We used to joke that we saw more wildlife in the city than we do here. I think large rural areas tend to be safer, as the wild ani­mals have more space in which to roam and hunt. We have seen coy­otes (well, I saw the bushes mov­ing) close to the house only once. We also typ­i­cally only hear them in the distance.