Urban coyotes live in just about every city in the US and many in Canada. Usually the resident humans don't even notice them, so skilled are they at seeking cover. However...

If people feed them -- either deliberately or unwittingly (by leaving cat food on the porch for their roaming cats) -- they lose their fear of humans. That has been the case here in lovely uptown Phoenix. In one upper-middle-class neighborhood, somebody is leaving food out, and a pair of coyotes has decided to make themselves at home.

By and large urban coyotes are harmless as long as they have not been "tamed" in this way. They certainly WILL take your cat (another good reason to please keep your cat inside!), and they can kill and carry off a dog the size of a smallish corgi. During whelping season, they will try to clear their territory of other canids, which by instinct they know are likely to predate on their pups. If they're hungry enough, tame enough, or whelping, they can ghost right over a six-foot wall.

That's the case in this Phoenix neighborhood. The residents have flown into a hysterical frenzy -- it's a development of patio homes, and so people living there tend to have small, tasty morsels...uhm, dogs. One lady's dog actually was grabbed in her backyard, but she managed to scare the coyote off by hollering at it.

When you leave food outside for the kitties -- or for your dog -- coyotes will come into the yard and eat it. Not surprisingly, they will look kindly upon you and decide you are their friend. Because people tend to get very hysterical about these animals and because coyotes can occasionally take after a small child AND because they can carry rabies, you do not want to ingratiate yourself with the local coyotes. If they become pests or are just perceived to be pests, the animal control folk (or an obliging neighbor) will shoot them.

Remember: a fed coyote is a dead coyote.

Please DON'T leave food outside for cats or for dogs! It attracts coyotes. And PLEASE don't deliberately feed coyotes. They're very efficient predators and they're omnivorous -- they eat almost anything, including (conveniently) mice, rats, squirrels, and gophers. If they're hunting instead of scavenging food from humans, they'll be well fed without developing habits that put them and your pets at risk.

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Send the neighbors here, so they can feel better about coyotes. They just showed on the evening news that someone had sent in photos of 3 mountain lion cubs that had taken residence on their porch.  The people did not disturb them, just waited for them to eventually leave.  Last winter we found mountain lion tracks coming right up to our front door, as well as to the side door, right alongside some rabbit tracks.... Everybody has to be somewhere!


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