Wildlife: Coyotes

Are you experiencing an issue with wildlife in your area?  If you have an urgent concern, please get in touch with us right away.  If you are looking for more information, please click on one of the questions below to expand the content and find your answer.  If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at DFW Wildlife Coalition.

Because foxes and coyotes have adapted to urban life it is possible to see a young family of foxes or coyotes playing. These sightings are rare and should not alarm you. Both foxes and coyotes have committed mothers and fathers who contribute to their rearing. The parents may be napping near by or hunting for the young. As an opportunistic hunter they may be hunting a squirrel, duck or rabbit during daylight. If the pups are playing do not disturb. You can use deterrents to get the family to move later, read FAQ how to evict. For now, observe and consider the following.
Rescue may be warranted if:
  • The pup is continually vocalizing and wondering around in your yard
  • Fire ants or flies are present
  • Obvious injury
  • You have observed a dead adult in your neighborhood
  • You are aware that an adult was trapped or killed in your neighborhood
  • You or your neighbor have used rat poison
  • The pup is lethargic and very thin
  • Eyes are closed, and the baby appears to have crawled out of a den
  • An older pup with missing fur and possible mange
Observe for a couple of hours unless the animal is in distress. If warranted and you can safely do so, place an inverted laundry basket over the pup to contain, while you wait for a parent to retrieve.
If the adult coyote or fox does not retrieve the young pup consult with the hotline and or a wildlife rehabilitator specializing in coyotes or foxes. It is important to keep wild babies with their family. Unfortunately, humans can cause disruption of the family that may have caused orphaning such as trapping, killing, or hitting with an automobile. Consult before you rescue. Also read the following FAQs:

Please reference our “Quick Tips” located in the upper right corner of our website for instructions on containing, transporting, providing life saving heat, and finding a wildlife rehabilitator.

  • Wildlife that is nocturnal will on occasion, especially while lactating, forage during the day.
  • If you observe a wild animal traveling from point A to point B, this would be considered normal healthy behavior.
  • Behavior to be concerned with is an animal that is lingering and not alert of the dogs or humans nearby.

Raccoons, skunks, fox, and coyote are susceptible to canine distemper and parvo.  Bobcats, raccoons, skunks and fox are susceptible to panleukopenia. Responsible pet owners vaccinate their pets annually for these diseases.  However, wildlife does not have the benefit of vaccines. Often an animal that is lingering and unaware of activity is suffering from distemper. Symptoms include:

  • Out during the day.  The difference is the animal is just lying in the yard and does not care what is happening around them such as barking dogs or people.
  • dragging hind legs, twitching, seizures, symptoms of nervous system disease
  • appearing to be tame
  • staggering   
  • matted eyes, or nasal discharge

These symptoms can also be rabies.  In Texas, there are very few incidences of rabies in the raccoon, coyote, fox, or bobcat however eastern states do see a greater incidence of rabies in the raccoon.  In the DFW area, we see an occasional skunk with rabies.

A sick animal needs to be removed by your city animal services and euthanized.  Distemper is not curable and is an air borne virus that is contagious.  People cannot contract distemper. Removal protects the rest of the wildlife.  Euthanasia is humane as the sick animal is suffering a lingering death. Most wildlife rehabilitators do not have the resources to euthanize for the public and do not want to introduce viruses to their existing animals in their care.

Please do not feed wildlife such as raccoons.  The transmission of distemper usually occurs when someone is intentionally feeding, and unrelated raccoons dine together.  The results are devastating as neighborhood populations die off. Show respect by not feeding wildlife.

For more information on rabies please the visit Center for Disease Control; https://www.cdc.gov/rabies/location/usa/surveillance/human_rabies.html

For the annual report documenting cases of rabies in Texas:

Texas Health and Human service annual report

  • Seeing a coyote or a bobcat in your neighborhood affects everyone differently. Education is always the best tool in dealing with wildlife. Once you understand, fear is replaced with a good healthy understanding of your role in keeping our wildlife wild.
  • Biologists studying urban wildlife have found that coyotes and bobcats are thriving in our cities. There is plenty of food, water and shelter, in fact life is easier for the urban than the rural coyote or bobcat.
  • Studies indicate that removal and or relocation does not reduce the population. In fact, removing some animals, typically allows for a larger territory for the remaining animals, leaving greater resources such as food leading to the success of larger litters of pups/kits. Studies indicate in two to three years, areas where populations were removed, the existing coyotes/bobcats have increased in greater numbers than before removal.
  • Studies also indicate that relocating territorial animals such as the coyote or bobcat almost always results in death of the animal that was relocated. Studies reveal big differences in rural and urban wildlife, in where they seek shelter and or food. (Relocating an urban animal into the country is often a death sentence.)
  • Good news is even though we continue to encroach on once wild areas, the wildlife has adapted to our urban eco-systems. Our responsibility is TO KEEP WILDLIFE WILD.
  • First rule: NEVER FEED WILDLIFE!
  • Remove and or secure all food sources such as garbage, bird feeders, pet food, or fallen fruit.
  • Manage small pets by keeping them indoors and on a leash by your side.
  • We recommend cats to be kept indoors as there are lots of dangers in our communities such as cars, disease, cat fights, dogs, hawks, owls and coyotes and bobcats.
  • Avoid allowing landscape to become overgrown and thin brushy areas. Don’t keep junk piles or accumulate debris.
  • Seal areas that could become den sites such as under a storage shed, a deck, or under a pier and beam home.
  • Water your lawns during the day.
  • Parents should never leave small children unsupervised.
  • Most conflicts are a result of feeding wildlife which causes habituation that leads to unnatural behavior and conflict.
  • NEVER FEED COYOTES! In fact, a fed coyote will have to be killed as it will lose its natural fear of humans. Note: coyotes are naturally thin.
  • If you see either a coyote or a bobcat, make it a negative experience by shouting, hitting pots and pans, throw a rock, squirt water from a hose. WILDLIFE NEEDS TO REMAIN AFRAID OF HUMANS.
  • When jogging or walking, simply raise your arms to appear larger and yell forcefully while looking directly at the coyote is the simplest way to haze. However, you can put rocks or coins in a metal coffee can or have a whistle or blow a horn as a noise deterrent. Never run from a coyote or bobcat, as this can encourage chasing. Remember stand tall, yell, and look directly at coyote or bobcat.
  • Coyotes and bobcats are naturally fearful of humans, lets keep it that way.
  • Bobcats may not appear as fearful of humans; however, they do have a space requirement and if feel threatened will retreat.
  • RECAP: NO FEEDING, REDUCE SHELTER OPPORTUNITES, USE NEGATIVE DETERRENTS TO KEEP WILDLIFE WILD. Share and educate your neighbors.

Video on how to haze a coyote

 

Video: “Coyotes as neighbors…”

Mammal predators in our cities include, bobcats, coyotes, and to a lesser degree raccoons, foxes, skunks and opossum.  Their diets consist of a wide range of insects, lizards, frogs, snakes, mice, rats, rabbits, squirrel, and ducks. All except the bobcat are omnivores which extends their diet to also include plants such as fruits, berries, and nuts.  A quick look around in your neighborhood, you will understand there is plenty of food. We have made those food sources even denser with accessible dumpsters and feeding of wildlife such as ducks at the park, bird or squirrel feeders in our yards.  In fact, food is so plentiful that hunting is not always a requirement when you can quickly dive into a dumpster and dine on our leftovers.

As our cities grow, we have encouraged developers to build green areas and water features in our planned communities.  We enjoy a daily walk or run or a visit to the greenbelt to watch the birds, ducks and squirrels. Often, we are willing to pay extra for those experiences.

Many have worried that continued encroachment of our cities might be devasting to our wildlife.  Our mid-range mammals have successfully adapted and our thriving in our cities. Basic needs of food, water and shelter are abundant.  

As our wildlife has adapted, many studies have been conducted and revealed that traditional trapping of wildlife does not solve the urban wildlife conflict.  Because food, water and shelter are so plentiful the removal of an animal just leaves the remaining animals larger territories to raise their family successfully. Another consideration is when the predator prey balance is disturbed there is an increase in rodent and rabbit populations.  Increased rodent population can be a health risk. Our urban predators naturally avoid human contact. Studies have also revealed that our urban predators are territorial and when relocated rarely survive.

Conflicts can be resolved with removal of the basic three needs of food, water, and shelter.

  • First rule:  NEVER FEED WILDLIFE!
    • Remove and or secure all food sources such as garbage, bird and squirrel feeders, pet food, or fallen fruit or nuts/acorns.
    • If you want to feed the birds, please put a day’s portion of seed when you can enjoy the songbirds.
    • Place your garbage out the morning of pick up.  If you must place out the night before, put half a cup of ammonia in the can to discourage rummaging.  Keep dumpster doors and lids closed.
    • Do not keep pet food out.  If you must feed your dog outside, please pick up any remaining food after 30-40 minutes.  Consider feeding indoors to prevent fire ants and flies in your pet’s food.
    • When feeding feral cats, alter the time of feeding frequently.
    • Do not store pet food or seeds in your garage or out buildings unless secured in a container that cannot be opened or chewed.
  • Manage pets.
    • When outside, supervise small pets and keep on a leash by your side when walking.  Keep small pets indoors.
    • Vaccinate your pets annually.
    • Bobcats, coyotes, hawks, eagles, and owls do not typically search for pets, however smaller than a rabbit size pet could be mistaken as prey.
    • Recommendations are to keep cats indoors as there are multiple dangers in our communities such as cars, disease, cat fights, dogs, hawks, owls, coyotes and bobcats.  
    • Cats are the major cause of song birds, rabbits, baby opossums, and baby squirrels admissions to a wildlife rehabilitator.
  • Water your lawns during the day. Adjust sprinkler systems to prevent pooling of water.
  • Avoid allowing landscape to become overgrown.  
    • Thin brushy areas.  
    • Don’t keep junk piles or accumulate debris.
  • Seal areas that could become den sites such as under a storage shed, a deck, or under a pier and beam home.
  • Teach children to respect and never approach or touch wildlife.  Explain the wildlife’s role in our cities and to always get an adult to help if wildlife is in need.  Small children should always be supervised as there are many dangers in our cities.
  • Most conflicts are a result of feeding wildlife which causes habituation that leads to unnatural behavior and conflict.
  • Share this information with your neighbors, family and friends.  Through education and responsible behavior, animals and humans can coexist in our cities.

A good video showing predator prey in an urban eco-system

If you have a wild neighbor, such as a coyote, fox or bobcat occupying your yard or under your deck or storage building, it is easy to encourage them to relocate. Trapping is not recommended as babies are very often left behind. It is difficult to trap a whole family such as with the coyote or fox that would include both parents. The bobcat is a single mother as the male will kill the kits. Territorial animals rarely survive relocation, especially a wild mother with babies that will be forced to abandon her family to survive. Relocation contributes to the spread of disease such as rabies, canine distemper or panleukopenia.
Eviction is a simpler solution because you do not have to relocate, and the family will remain intact. With deterrents you encourage the wild neighbor to vacate and take her young which prevents orphaning. Eviction is the most humane solution.
Often the discovery of the den is enough for the parents to move the family. Encourage them to move by leaving lights on in the yard. In a couple of days, if they have not moved proceed with an eviction.
To evict you will need a light (possibly an extension cord), a portable radio, apple cider vinegar and some rags. A utility clamp light purchased at your local hardware store is very handy to use.
  • You must do the eviction at dusk because you are evicting a nocturnal animal.
  • At dusk light the den area.
  • Turn the radio on a 24-hour talk or rap station and place at the den.
  • These two deterrents are normally enough.
  • You may add the third deterrent the apple cider vinegar-soaked rags at the den, especially if it takes more than one night to complete the eviction.
  • You must turn these deterrents off at dawn.
The wild mother will be alarmed at these deterrents and will move to another den site. These deterrents are a threat to the young family while the parent(s) are out hunting/foraging. Remember they prefer quiet dark locations and you just created the opposite conditions. If there are babies, the parent(s) will begin to move the babies one at a time unless they are able to follow the parent.
At dawn when you turn the deterrents off, plug the entry hole if it was a den under a shed etc., with paper or tape a plastic trash bag over the hole. The purpose is not to restrict entry, it is to alert you as to activity coming and going.
  • If the plugged entry is left untouched for 24-hours the wild family has moved. If there is still activity repeat the deterrents as above and include the apple cider vinegar-soaked rags for the second night. Dawn of the second morning, again turn deterrents off and plug the hole to monitor for activity. When babies are involved it may take two nights for the mother to relocate the babies.
  • Once there is no activity, immediately repair or at the very minimum cover the entry with hardware cloth and a ¾ to 1-inch sturdy staple.
  • When the den was under a deck, you should consider installing a skirt to prevent future entry of wild neighbors. Read FAQ: How to prevent raccoons from finding shelter on your property or home
  • A special note, if there are adverse weather conditions that may limit the mother’s activity, wait to begin the eviction as you do not want the mother to become accustom to the deterrents.
Remember prevention is the best solution. Keeping wildlife babies with their natural mother is the most humane solution. The simple use of deterrents is effective. If you are having difficulty or need advice, please contact the wildlife hotline. If you suspect the mother left a baby behind, call the hotline before you act.

Skunk, opossum, raccoon, coyoteo, or armadillo enjoy dining on grub worms.  Digging activity is usually noticed after a lot of rain or overwatering from a sprinkler system.  The moisture causes the grubs to rise to the surface.  Wildlife eating grubs is beneficial and is free pest control.   Once the grubs are eaten the wildlife will continue their journey.  Patience and tolerance are recommended.

To Encourage the Wildlife to Move Sooner, adopt these changes to your lawn maintenance.

Practice deep watering of your lawn especially in August. The grub eggs require frequent moisture to hatch.  By limiting the frequency of watering, the moisture reduction will reduce the number of eggs hatching.

In late spring to early summer, reduce outdoor lighting which attracts the June bugs and other beetles.  This may reduce egg laying in your yard.

Do not cut your lawn short as this makes a more attractive site for laying eggs. Let it remain taller.

Over seed your lawn in the spring and fall.  A thick lawn is too dense to accommodate the beetles.

Use an eco-friendly fertilizer for your lawn in the spring and fall.  A healthy lawn is more resistant to pests. A good comparison with tips at this site:  http://www.greenhome.com/blog/cut-the-crap-making-your-own-eco-friendly-fertilizer-is-easier-than-you-think

Attract birds to your yard that may dine on grub worms and other insects.

These Products are Recommended for the Treatment of Grubs.

Your purchase through our product page supports the DFW Wildlife Coalition Hotline.  

Mix 1 cup Castor oil, 1 cup liquid dish soap, and 1-gallon of water.  Put in a garden sprayer and spray the area of concern. You will need to respray as needed due to rain or sprinkler system.

One longer-term solution is a product called “Milky Spore”, (not effective in Texas for the white grub), this is a natural non-toxic bacterium that will kill grubs and can be purchased online or your local garden store.

Beneficial Nematodes is another long-term solution for grubs and can be purchased online or at garden stores.  In Texas, commercially-available nematodes have shown a 50% reduction of grubs. Carefully follow instructions for the best results.

According to Texas A&M Agri-Life Extension the repeated use of spiked sandals (sold for aerating) over the infested turf may reduce grub population by 50%.

Apply Neem oil as a botanical pesticide.

Adopt the lawn care recommendations.  Encourage those insect eating birds.  And if needed the products recommended to reduce the digging activity in your yard.  Remember the wildlife are beneficial in keeping our rodent populations under control.

Resources: