ST. PAUL, Minn. - In the Battle Creek area of St. Paul, coyote sightings are happening more frequently.
"There was a coyote kind of down by the water, and he kind of looked at me I looked at him," smiled Dan Strike. "We stared at each other a little bit and he just took off back in the woods."
That's exactly the kind of reaction animal control would like the coyotes to have. While coyotes have practically moved in next door, the last thing you want to do is make them feel at home.
"Cover your garbage, don't leave your pet food outside, don't intentionally feed some of the wildlife, if you do it, make sure it's cleaned up daily," explained St.Paul Animal Control's Bill Stephenson.
Additionally, it's now more important to ensure their fear of us sticks.
The last thing animal control wants is a coyote to get used to us. So they recommend something called "hazing" the animal. For instance, banging on a pan to scare them off or throwing a rock, or even if you have a hose at your house, spray water at them to keep them from getting used to us.
Right now, coyotes are breeding or "pupping" so they may be a little bit more protective and a little more aggressive.
Whatever we can do to be a bother is the best approach, and don't stop until the coyote is out of sight.
"Because if they learn all I have to do is run away 20 or 30 feet from you it's going to stop and be okay," explained Stephenson. "So there's where the consistency comes in."
Coyotes in Saint Paul are here to stay, so residents should exercise caution around them.
Coyotes have a natural fear of humans, and there have been very few verified reports of a coyote attacking pets. Attacks on humans, particularly children, are extremely rare. The key to a healthy relationship between coyotes and people is to maintain the natural fear, or apprehension, that coyotes have for people.
The City of Saint Paul offers a few basic rules for this below:
1. Don't provide a food source. Experts insist that residents should never feed coyotes. If you keep a dog dish full of dog food outside at night, logically this will attract coyotes to your yard.
2. Haze or annoy the animals if you see them. If you see coyotes in your yard, haze them. Examples of this include banging on a pot and pan, throwing a stick or rock at them, yelling at the animal, whistling at them, or spraying them with hoses or pepper spray. Do not make them feel welcome and be persistent and consistent in hazing them.
3. Be mindful of the law. Saint Paul ordinance requires a leash on all dogs for good reason. Keeping your pets, especially small ones, on a leash when outside at all times will go a long way to ensuring they do not wander off and find themselves around an aggressive coyote. Ultimately, the only way to assure that your pet is totally safe from coyotes or other predators is to keep them inside.
For more information please visit the City of Saint Paul web site at http://stpaul.gov/animalcontrol
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