Coyotes have always been part of living in the city. What’s new is that people and coyotes are coming into conflict more frequently.
Lakewood is focused on reducing the number of conflicts by educating residents and park users on how to avoid contact with coyotes, hazing coyotes to make them afraid of humans and working with Colorado Parks and Wildlife when problems arise.
What the City is Doing
City staff monitor coyote populations, their locations and changes in behavior and track conflicts. When conflicts arise, the City puts signs in the area to alert residents and assess residents’ yards to help eliminate items that attract coyotes. City staff are also available to speak to homeowner associations or other community groups to provide information and education.
Park rangers also let park users know that the most effective way to prevent encounters with coyotes is to keep dogs on a leash. Off-leash dogs can trigger coyotes to defend their territory, den or pups. It is important to keep dogs on a leash, not only to comply with the City’s leash law, but also to avoid having a pet exposed to a coyote that can carry rabies. If a pet is bitten, and there is no proof of a history of rabies vaccinations administered by a licensed veterinarian, the health department may order a pet either to be quarantined or euthanized for testing.
The City also coordinates with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which has volunteers to monitor and haze coyotes. City staff also haze coyotes by using pepperball pellets and bear spray. Hazing is intended to restore a healthy fear of people by coyotes.
What hasn’t worked
Colorado Parks and Wildlife does not allow trapping and relocating coyotes because it has proven to be an ineffective technique. Sterilization also is expensive and has limited effect.
While eradication programs have been attempted in cities across the country during the last 100 years, they have proven to be expensive failures. Research shows that attempts to kill off coyotes result in the remaining coyotes increasing reproduction by having larger litters, and local coyote populations quickly meet or exceed the population numbers before eradication was attempted.
Why they live in the city
Coyotes live in the city because plentiful food sources exist such as mice, rabbits, squirrels and small rodents. They also learn to take advantage of the ample human-associated food such as garbage, pet food, bird seed, compost piles, and unfortunately, unattended pets. It takes only one person in a neighborhood leaving pet food or other items in their yard to keep coyotes in the area.
Tips to avoid conflicts with coyotes:
- Don’t approach coyotes or their dens.
- Be as big and loud as you can.
- Avoid walking through or cutting through areas with thick vegetation.
- Always keep pets on a leash and use a reasonable length of a leash.
- Park neighbors should avoid having items in their yards that can attract coyotes (pet food, outdoor pet water, bird seed, accessible garbage and fallen fruit from trees).
- Pets left outside in yards should be supervised, particularly at dawn and dusk.
- Never feed coyotes
If you encounter a coyote:
- Don’t run away or turn your back on a coyote. Yell or make loud noises, wave your arms.
- Pick up small children and carry them.
- If a coyote approaches you, throw sticks, rocks, or other objects at the coyote.