“Ghosts of the City”

by Linda DeStefano

Translated by Rob English

Urban coyotes are sometimes called “ghosts of the city” because they can live near us without being noticed. To many people, they are beautiful and fascinating animals. To some, they are nuisances to be hunted for fun.

Coyotes have an important role in controlling Lyme Disease because the main diet of both rural and urban coyotes is rodents. Since mice are a carrier of Lyme Disease, we can thank coyotes for keeping the mice population in check. Coyotes also eat eggs of Canada geese, a species which has increased a great deal in numbers and which some people consider a nuisance.

Coyotes tend to avoid humans and dogs. It can be dangerous for the coyotes, humans and dogs (especially small dogs) to interact with each other. It is important that coyotes do not lose their fear of humans and that humans respect the right of coyotes to exist. Here are some points for peaceful co-existence:

  1. Do not feed coyotes, even inadvertently. Do not leave out pet food, garbage, uncontained compost or large areas of birdseed. The birdseed will attract squirrels, which can attract coyotes
  2. Don’t leave your companion animals unattended or allow them to run loose. Coyotes sometimes eat cats and small dogs. When walking your dog, have her or him on a leash.
  3. Don’t run from a coyote as it may trigger her or his chase instinct.
  4. If a coyote is acting aggressive, stand your ground, stand tall, wave your arms, make noise, throw sticks and stones near (not AT) the coyote.
  5. In Spring and early Summer, a normally non-aggressive coyote may act aggressive to protect her/his den of pups. If you are aware of the den area, rather than try the describe hazing behavior in #4, it is better to avoid the area entirely.

Coyotes live alone or in packs. If you are lucky, you may hear the coyotes’ “songs” of howls when they communicate with each other.

For more information about coyotes, SEE urbancoyoteresearch.com and read the book GOD’S DOG: THE NORTH AMERICAN COYOTE by Hope Ryden.

Linda is President of People for Animal Rights, P.O. Box 15358, Syracuse, NY 13215-0358, 315-488-PURR (7877), people4animalrightscny@gmail.com, peopleforanimalrightsofcny.org.