Colorado Department of Wildlife

Attention! There Are Coyote's in Vista Ridge
A Message from the Colorado Department of Wildlife

Colorado Department of Wildlife
 (303) 291-7227
http://wildlife.state.co.us/

The Colorado Division of Wildlife would like to remind Erie residents that coyotes live and feed in Vista Ridge, and  appropriate precautions should be taken to avoid conflicts.  Erie and other similar towns can present challenging coyote situations because of the interspersed  agriculture, open space, riparian areas and new developments.  Where this type of environment exists, coyotes thrive as they are incredibly adaptable.  Trying to remove coyotes by killing them has, in the past, actually shown to increase  populations (more young/litter) than to achieve the desired effect of fewer  coyotes.  In addition, coyotes are territorial, so if  existing coyotes are removed, others will replace them.  This species is able to thrive in human-altered environments, and can adapt and expand their range and behavior  accordingly.  Relocation of coyotes is not an option. 

Coyotes become habituated to people for a number of reasons, but food is the main motivation - pets and garbage often draw them into urban  areas and backyards.  They are looking for food, and generally people - even children - are not at risk from a bite or attack.  However, it is always wise to take precautions and supervise kids while outside to the degree you feel comfortable.  It is also a good idea to teach children what do if they see a coyote.  They should act big, yell, and back away slowly to a safe place.  Kids can keep  whistles or other noisemakers on them to alert parents in case of a problem.

Fortunately there have been very few people bitten/attacked in Colorado but those rare cases where people have been hurt follow these trends: 

1) Coyote approaches and bites a person because it is used to a handout and wants food.

2) Coyote is attacking a pet and person gets in the middle, trying to save pet.

3) Coyote was injured and being transported in a car by someone trying to help and they got bitten.

The best thing residents can do is negatively condition coyotes if they are acting habituated - haze with pepper spray, noisemakers such as air horns, and non-lethal rubber buckshot (which we can provide if you can legally and safely shoot where you live).  Please be mindful that  leaving garbage or pet food outside can inadvertently attract coyotes and contribute to habituation. 

Coyotes are predators, and pets can be at risk if left unattended in yards for any length of time, especially if the pet is less than about 20 lbs.  Many communities in Erie are required to have certain types of fencing.  To keep coyotes out of yards, a fence greater than 6 ft tall is needed - the higher the better.  If proper backyard fencing is not an option, residents may want to consider a covered run to keep pets protected.  Coyotes are most active at dusk, dawn, and throughout the night (though certainly they are out in the day too) and this is when pets are most often attacked. Residents should be aware that red foxes will also prey on pets, particularly cats and very small dogs. 

Coyotes can offer a wonderful wildlife viewing opportunity and are beneficial in controlling small mammal populations.  They are an important part of a healthy environment, and coexistence is encouraged.  Most people appreciate that Erie has such habitat that wildlife can exist in and around the town, but every so often it becomes a little close for comfort. 

For further information on coyote biology, behavior and minimizing conflicts, please visit our website at http://www.wildlife.state.co.us/., or call us at 303.291.7227.