Coyotes are certainly nothing new in Nevada, especially in areas where sprawl meets desert. But these days it’s not unusual to see them prowling suburban streets or sunning themselves on golf courses in broad daylight. On a recent Sunday morning, coyotes scaled a 7-foot wall to get at an Anthem family’s dog.
Doug Nielsen, conservation educator with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, isn’t surprised wild canines are coming around, especially in master-planned areas like Anthem and Summerlin, which provide the holy trinity of open space, water and vegetation necessary to sustain all the prey species that attract coyotes—rabbits, rats, squirrels, quail, mice, you name it.
But with Southern Nevada’s extended drought—particularly over the past three years—comes the natural reduction of coyotes’ favorite snacks. Next up on their menu? Small dogs. And Nielsen says coyotes are continually adapting as a species. “As they become habituated to what we do, then they need to extend their hunting hours, and chances are you’re going to see more of them.”
Amazingly, a significant part of the problem in most communities comes from residents themselves. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard about people who put food out for them every day,” Nielsen says. “We have generations that have been indoctrinated to believe that somehow wildlife can’t take care of itself.”
As for our personal safety? Nielsen says to always use common sense when you see a coyote. “As a rule, coyotes want nothing to do with us, but I’m never going to say never.”
Tips for protecting you and your pets from coyotes:
1. Trim your bushes and trees up so that no vegetation touches the ground. Coyotes love places where they can get out of sight, and that includes your backyard.
2. If a coyote does get into your backyard, make sure your pets are inside. Then leave an opening so they can get out.
3. Make sure your garbage can has a secure lid.
4. If you feed your animals outside, keep the area clean. Anything left on the ground becomes an attractant.
5. Don’t let small dogs out at dusk or dawn by themselves. “And I’d be real careful about the middle of the day, too,” Nielsen says.
6. If you’re walking your dog and see a coyote, make as much noise as you can. “And whatever you do, don’t crouch down and make yourself smaller,” Nielsen says.