July 1, 2011
Teaching People and Coyotes How to Peacefully Coexist
Unique program saves coyotes' lives by re-instilling their natural fear of people
The Humane Society of the United States is reaching out to animal control officers, law enforcement agencies, and community animal advocates from around the country, offering special training on how to deal with conflicts involving one of America’s hardiest wild creatures: coyotes.
Lynsey White Dasher, Urban Wildlife Specialist with The HSUS, has been teaching classes on the latest methods to reduce suburban conflicts with coyotes. Coyote-human conflicts have increased, White Dasher said, because the wild creatures “have learned that people are not a source of danger.”
White Dasher teaches people how to "haze" coyotes, by making noise, shining bright lights, spraying water, and generally acting unpredictable. It might seem a little odd, but it's the compassionate way to prevent coyotes from being killed. Some municipalities trap and kill coyotes who hang around neighborhoods. But that doesn’t reduce the coyote population, and it doesn’t solve the problem.
“We want to teach them to be afraid of people, as they naturally should be,” White Dasher said.
Re-educating coyotes—and people
White Dasher presented the latest research and techniques at the International Urban and Wildlife Management and Planning Conference in Austin, Texas. At the Animal Care Expo in Orlando, White Dasher and Ashley DeLaup, wildlife ecologist for the City and County of Denver, Colorado, trained about 30 animal advocates and animal control officers from around the country on how to best haze wild coyotes.
“I think that hearing about successful coyote hazing programs encourages them to try it out in their own communities,” White Dasher said.
DeLaup developed a successful coyote hazing program for community residents in Denver after coyotes preyed on people’s pets. The HSUS has helped develop a similar program in Wheaton, Illinois, outside Chicago.
"Go away coyote!"
Blowing whistles, yelling, and making sudden movements around coyotes is “a way of marking our territory, which is something coyotes understand,” says DeLaup.
“The more we make them think we are unpredictable, the more they want to stay away,” DeLaup says. “If I go out and scare a coyote and then a second person scares a coyote, once the third time comes, the coyote thinks: You know what? I don’t want to stay around here.”
White Dasher adds, “When you teach one coyote in a family group, he or she will pass that information on to other members of a family group.”