More than a dozen Saint Louis area families have lost a pet to a coyote attack in the past year.
Coyotes are common in Missouri and Illinois even in densely populated urban areas. There are some indications coyote numbers are on the rise in the St. Louis area. While there are no official numbers, the increase in sightings and rise in attacks, lead wildlife experts to believe the coyote population is increasing.
“Coyote interactions with people and pets are increasing,” explains Tom Meister, a wildlife biologist with the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Meister wants to do more research on the coyote population and their urban behavior in the Saint Louis region.
Meister says the increase of attack reports convinces him more animal owners should take steps to protect their pets.
– Pets should be supervised when outside between dusk and dawn.
– If pets must be left outside, make sure your yard fence is at least 6′ tall and 6″ deep to ensure coyotes cannot jump over it or dig under it. Coyotes like to dig, so install vinyl lattice 2 to 3 feet below ground to prevent any tunneling. Consider a Coyote Roller for your fence: A coyote roller attaches to the top of your existing fence. The Coyote Roller prevents a coyote from latching its paws to the top of fence by spinning the animal off, making it lose its footing.
– Trash cans should be secured and taken to the curb close to pick up time.
– Pet food should not be left outside. Do not feed coyotes or other wildlife.
– Monitor fruit trees and bushes: Be vigilant about cleaning the yard of fallen apples, berries, oranges, and other food.
– Breeding season is from January through March, and pup season is from March until May. Coyotes may attack any size dog if they feel they or their pups are threatened.
– Dogs should be kept on a leash when on walks.
– If you spot a coyote, wave your arms, clap, and shout to scare it away. It is important to make yourself seem as large as possible.
– When letting out dogs in a yard at night, turn on outdoor lighting and make noise to alert coyotes a human is nearby. Be prepared to take action against coyotes.
Meister advises pet owners to “make lots of noise, pots and pans, throw rocks at them, spray coyotes with a hose. Whatever you can do to persuade them to leave your yard.”
Coyotes are reddish or grayish brown with a whitish belly and throat. They have black-tipped tails, large pointed ears, and small pointed muzzles. In Missouri they are usually around 23-25″ tall and weigh 25 to 35 pounds.
The Missouri Department of Conservation has a free resource guide and booklet on coyote control including using guard animals and regulations concerning coyote hunting and trapping seasons.