Thousand Palms, CA – June 21, 2012: Summer is officially here, and summer heat and dryness means less food and water for our desert’s predatory animals. Not surprisingly, we often see more coyotes in our parks, neighborhoods, backyards, and golf courses this time of year.
It’s not that coyotes crave schnauzers and calicos; it’s that they’re hungry and resourceful and pets are a plentiful food source. What’s worse, by giving our dogs and cats a safe, stress-free life, we have somewhat desensitized them to being natural prey. In short, our pets are less attuned than non-domesticated animals to the dangers lurking in the bushes. What’s their best line of defense against coyotes? Us. By following a few precautionary tips this summer, we can almost guarantee our pets will be safe from coyotes:
1. Never feed a coyote. It’s better to keep coyotes scared and away from you than to befriend them. Feeding coyotes won’t keep them from stalking your pets; on the contrary, it can give coyotes the bravado to boldly go where they haven’t gone before–like into your backyard or through the doggy door.
2. Don’t leave pet food in the yard. If coyotes smell and discover your pets’ food bowls, they’ll help themselves and be back for more. Instead, feed your dogs and cats inside. Also, keep fallen fruit (like tangerines and grapefruit) off the ground and out of the yard, as it can also attract resourceful predators. Finally, keep a tight lid on your trash cans, and never leave trash bags accessible to four-legged scavengers.
3. Keep your pets indoors from dusk to dawn. If your pets need to go outside for exercise and potty breaks in the evenings, keep them on a leash. Cat owners, if your kitty won’t wear a harness, (and most cat owners haven’t leash trained their cats) keep her close by. Coyotes are much faster than we are, even while running with prey in their mouths.
4. Enclose your back yard with a wall or fence. Make it at least six feet high, and because coyotes instinctively dig, install a vinyl lattice or chicken wire 2 to 3 feet underground. This should stop a determined coyote from tunneling in.
5. If you walk your pets at night, keep them on a leash. This is especially important if you walk them along golf courses and desert chaparral.
6. Finally, to help guard your smaller pets adopt a large dog from a local animal shelter, like a German shepherd, Rottweiler, or mastiff. Okay, so this might be a blatant plea to adopt from a local animal shelter–but the big ones will protect the little ones!
Animal Samaritans SPCA, a 501 (c) non-profit organization founded in 1978, is committed to improving the lives of animals and people. As the Coachella Valley’s most comprehensive animal welfare organization, they strive to one day eliminate the needless suffering and abuse of homeless and unwanted animals. Programs and services in place to save the lives of healthy and treatable animals include prevention through humane education, affordable spay and neuter, vaccinations, and other veterinary care, animal sheltering, animal rescue, pet fostering and pet adoptions. In addition, more than one hundred volunteers from their Pet Therapy programs visit special needs classrooms, nursing homes, local hospitals, and residents at Juvenile Hall. More information is available by calling 760-343-4908 and by visiting www.animalsamaritans.org