Dear Porky and Buddy,
I just moved into a new house just outside of Oswego and there are woods across the street. At night sometimes I hear this eerie howling noise. At first, I had no idea what it was, but a neighbor told me there is a pack of coyotes living there and to keep my animals inside as they might attack them. Is that true? I had no idea we have coyotes living in New York. It feels like the wild wild West all of a sudden. Should I be worried about my cat, Fluffy, and my collie, Lassie?
Lassie? Timmy? Fluffy? But we digress. No this is not the wild wild West. It’s the wild wild East—a much more interesting area of the country—but we digress again.
Bands of coyotes are found now in every state except Hawaii. As a general rule they avoid humans, even when their home range encompasses largely urban or suburban habitat. But you can certainly hear them. So get used to their unique and thrilling vocalizations.
You don’t want them in your yard, however. They are wild animals that hunt for their food and a cat, even Fluffy, is not your precious pet to a coyote. She’s dinner. Here is how to coexist.
Keep Fluffy inside or outside only under your supervision. Don’t let Lassie roam freely in the woods. She is not dinner, but she might be a threat, especially if there are coyote pups.
Most important, don’t unwittingly invite coyotes (or other wild animals) into your yard by setting up a free “all you can eat” buffet for them. Pet food and garbage left outside can lure coyotes into suburban yards and create the impression that backyards are bountiful feeding areas.
If you must feed outside do it only for a set time during the day (for no more than one hour) and remove the food bowl as soon as Lassie has finished her meal. In dry conditions, water can be as enticing as food, so remove water bowls set outside for pets and make other water sources unavailable at night.
If you compost, use enclosed bins and never compost meat or fish scraps. (You knew that already, right?) Regularly rake areas around bird feeders and remove fallen fruit from the ground.
Keep trash in high-quality containers with tight-fitting lids. If possible, only place the cans curbside the morning of collection. If you leave them out overnight, they are more likely to be tipped and broken into.
Bag especially attractive food wastes such as meat scraps or leftover pet food. If it is several days before garbage will be picked up, freeze that good stuff temporarily or take it to a dumpster or other secure storage container.
Coyotes are secretive animals, and studies have shown they can live for a long time in close proximity to dense human settlements without ever being noticed (only heard).
They are “abiding by the rules” and will leave you alone if you leave them alone. Think of them as interesting but exclusive neighbors who play strange music at night!
The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.
Our office is located at 265 W. First St., Oswego, NY.
Phone: (315) 207-1070.
Email: [email protected]
Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other!