FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 16, 2009

Hard Lessons Learned & What to Do to Protect Companion Animals

Larkspur, CA – Coyotes have made headlines in the last 24 hours after pop-star Jessica Simpson sent a tweet to the world that her dog, Daisy, had been taken by a coyote near her home in Calabasas, California. “Our sympathies go out to Ms. Simpson for the loss of her beloved canine companion,” said Camilla Fox, Founding Director of Project Coyote. “While the loss of a pet to a coyote is a devastating experience for any animal guardian, there are lessons to be learned and steps all animal guardians should take to protect their domestic animals from coyotes and other native carnivores,” said Fox.

Project Coyote, a national non-profit organization headquartered in Northern California that promotes educated coexistence between people and coyotes and advocates on behalf of carnivores, recommends that cat and dog guardians take the following steps to reduce negative encounters with coyotes:

  • Don’t let domestic animals roam; keep them securely enclosed and protected at night (keep cats indoors).
  • Don’t leave animal foods outside.
  • Install motion sensored-lights near buildings to deter undesired wildlife.
  • Walk dogs on leashes, particularly during coyote mating and pupping seasons (Jan/Feb. and April-July).
  • Spay or neuter your dogs. Though uncommon, coyotes are attracted to, and can mate with, unfixed domestic dogs.
  • Secure garbage in sturdy containers with tight fitting lids and store in secure buildings. Take out trash the morning pick up is scheduled, not the previous night.
  • Keep compost in secure, wildlife proof containers.
  • Keep birdseed off the ground; seeds attract rodents which attract coyotes. Remove feeders if coyotes are regularly seen around your yard.
  • Keep barbecue grills clean.
  • Clear away bushes and dense weeds near buildings where coyotes might find cover and critters to feed on.
  • Close off crawl spaces from under decks and around buildings where coyotes may den.
  • If you see a coyote in your yard, “haze” them by making loud noises with pots, pans, air horns, or a water hose.

“Essentially cats and dogs become part of the ecosystem when they’re free roaming and while they’re more likely to be killed by automobiles than by wild animals, a coyote may view cats and small dogs as easy prey and larger dogs as competition,” said Dr. Marc Bekoff, Project Coyote Advisory Board member and world-renown canid ethologist. “People must take responsibility to protect their domestic animals from wild carnivores just as they do to protect their children from sexual predators.”

“People who move to the outskirts of urban areas sometimes forget that with wild land comes wildlife,” said Fox. “We have a responsibility — both for our domestic animals and for the wild ones with whom we share this planet — to do what can we individually and as a community to coexist with wildlife and to reduce attractants that can lead to conflicts.”

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