South Suburban adopts coyote plan

Posted 2/18/10

The South Suburban Parks and Recreation District Board of Directors is taking steps to address a growing point of concern in the south metro area — …

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South Suburban adopts coyote plan


The South Suburban Parks and Recreation District Board of Directors is taking steps to address a growing point of concern in the south metro area — coyotes.

The board formally and unanimously adopted a coyote management plan at its Feb. 10 regular meeting. The purpose of the plan is to educate district residents about how to live with coyotes and how to respond to conflicts with them.

“We’ve been looking at the issue for close to two years,” board Chairman Jerry Call said. “The plan of education and communication is appropriate… but it’s not easy. How do you manage wildlife? We’re trying.”

The plan includes an ongoing education program, implementing a “hazing” program that instills in the coyote a fear of humans by scaring it away with loud noises or throwing things at it. The plan does not rule out using lethal control for particularly aggressive animals.

Jim Priddy, manager of parks and open space for SSPR, said coyote sighting and interaction with humans in the district has been increasing in recent years.

“It started about November 2008,” he said. “There were some indications coyotes were becoming more prevalent and braver, using residents’ yards and so forth.”

Priddy said coyotes are not more active in any one area than another and the number of coyote sightings is pretty uniformly distributed throughout the district’s 3,600 acres of parkland.

According to Priddy, since Nov. 1, 2008, when the SSPRD began keeping track, through Dec. 31, 2009, there were 172 reported sightings, 34 encounters, three pet attacks and four pet losses. There were no reported coyote “incidents,” which are defined as a coyote exhibiting aggressive behavior toward a human, or any reported coyote attacks on humans.

But Jennifer Churchill, public information officer with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, says not only are coyote sightings in the Denver metro area increasing, but so are instances of coyotes biting humans. Between December 2007 and October 2009, Churchill said there have been six instances reported to the DOW of coyotes biting people in the Denver metro area. None of the incidents were in the South Suburban Parks and Recreation District.

“I think what’s going on is that we basically have given them no reason to be afraid of us,” Churchill said. “In rural areas, they are shot at by ranchers. In the metro area, we have all this wonderful habitat for coyotes.”

The solution, Churchill said, is to restore in the coyote its natural fear of humans. That means making a coyote feel as uncomfortable as possible in the presence of humans by yelling and throwing things at it.

Keeping your dog leashed in coyote territory is also key because domestic dogs are an attractant for coyotes. Four of the six reported bites involved a coyote attack on a pet. The dog owners were bitten when they tried to intervene.

“Coyotes see other dogs as a threat, a possible mate or a food source,” Churchill said. “It’s critical to keep your animals on a leash.”

The other two bites involved a coyote that was fed by humans. People may intentionally or unintentionally feed coyotes, by making pet food, garbage or bird feeders easily accessible. (Bird feeders attract rodents, a staple of the coyote’s diet.)

“When they are fed by humans, they’ve lost that natural and healthy fear of people,” Churchill said.

And once a coyote loses its natural fear of humans, Churchill said, it can’t be hazed back.

Priddy said last spring the SSPRD conducted information sessions with local homeowners’ associations, with some success.

“The coyotes are going to be here and it’s just an effort for people to try and live with them and protect their pets,” he said.

For more information or to report a coyote incident or encounter, go to www. or


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