According to NH Fish and Game, Eastern coyotes are common in every county throughout the state and have been since 1980. Over the past several months, and even within the past few days, there have been several coyote sightings posted in local community Facebook groups. Rick Van de Poll, an ecosystem management consultant says that “coyotes have learned how to survive in neighborhoods and suburbs. You’ll see coyotes everywhere.”
On the evening of October 1st, a coyote attack was reported in Nottingham. A woman was walking her dog in her driveway when they were attacked from behind, according to a neighbor who posted in Nottingham NH News & Information. NH Fish and Game reported that this was not typical coyote behavior and warned residents to be careful and vigilant with young children and pets.
Coyotes are quite vocal during their January to March breeding season according to NH Fish and Game. Both parents care for their young, occasionally with the assistance of older offspring. Four to eight pups are born in early May.
Coyote attacks often occur at night on cats left outside to wander and small dogs that are out in yards with invisible fences. Coyotes will also attack larger dogs they perceive as rivals during mating season.
As coyote sightings increase in NH, pet owners must learn how to coexist with these creatures. To help keep coyotes wild, and your family and pets safe, follow these 6 tips from wildlife experts:
- Eliminate food temptations: It is never a good idea to feed coyotes or any wild animals, and in many places it is illegal. Feeding endangers your family and neighbors as it lures coyotes into neighborhoods. Work with your neighbors and homeowners association, if applicable, to make sure attractants such as fallen fruit, pet food left outside, dirty barbecue grills, and unsecured trash or compost are removed so that negative coyote interactions are minimized. Store food and trash in covered, heavy-duty animal-proof containers.
- Practice backyard safety: Keep unattended cats and dogs indoors or in completely enclosed runs, especially at night, and do not assume that a fence will keep a coyote out of your backyard. A coyote-proof kennel or fence (6-foot high fencing with the bottom extending two feet underground, to prevent digging) provides the best protection for pets. Turn on lights, if it is dark, to check your backyard for unexpected wildlife. Leash your pet when outside at night and carry a flashlight with you for scoping out the area first. Leave noisemakers on hand to scare away coyotes that may enter your yard, such as whistles, cow bells, and horns.
- Keep rabies vaccine updated: Although rare, coyotes can carry rabies. Make sure your pets’ rabies vaccinations are up to date. If they come into contact with a wild animal the vaccination will save its life.
- Keep dogs on a short leash: If you live in an area where coyote sightings are common, keep your dog on a short leash while walking outside; experts recommend a leash no longer than 6 feet. Coyotes are also less likely to approach if a person is nearby.
- Stay away from den sites: Walk your dog in open, well-lit areas. Avoid areas frequented by coyotes or that are known den sites, including rocky crevices, dense thickets and sometimes the dens of other animals.
- Know what to do if you encounter a coyote: Keep your distance from coyotes at all times. If a coyote approaches you, don’t run away or turn your back. Move away slowly while yelling and waving your arms. Throwing rocks and sticks might be effective at reinforcing the threat. Yell, clap hands, blow a whistle and try to make yourself look larger. Carrying an air-horn or citronella spray can also be effective. (We do not recommend pepper spray since that can damage your eyes as well as your dogs.) Do not allow a coyote to get in between you and your pet or child—keep children close to you. If you feel your life is in danger or you are being threatened by coyotes or other animals, call 911.
Don’t mistake a coyote for a dog. Unlike the wolf or domestic dog, coyotes run with their tail pointing down. If you see a coyote and suspect it may be rabid, or notice strange behavior, call your local police department as well as NH Fish and Game at (603) 271-3421.