Coyotes to Blame for Cat Disappearances, Deaths?
Are coyotes causing any problems in Brookfield? In Muskego residents are blaming coyotes their missing and killed cats. Experts give tips on how to keep coyotes away from your property.
The Brookfield police reports at times have a coyote sighting or two. But are they causing any problems for Brookfield residents?
In Muskego, some residents are pointing the finger of blame at the animals for the disappearance and death of their cats.
Muskego Patch received a plea from a reader on Facebook whose 13-year-old cat went missing about three weeks ago and believes "the coyotes probably got her."
Then another resident sent a letter saying its pet was likely the victim of coyotes.
"There are many missing cats in the area during the summer of 2012. We are not 100% sure, but we believe they are being taken by the coyotes," wrote the Muskego woman, who asked to remain anonymous because her children are unaware of their pet's fate.
"We have all seen and heard the coyotes often in this area," the woman wrote. "I believe once they started finding them they are actively looking for them now. When I heard the news from several neighbors I felt compelled to write this warning."
Tom Zagar, conservation coordinator for Muskego, said he has not heard from residents that coyotes are worse than in other years. But he cautioned the animals are scavengers so pets left unattended are always prey, whether coyote populations are increasing or not.
At the Waukesha County field office for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Tim Lizotte agreed that "coyotes are opportunistic — they're going to eat whatever they can get a hold of." And in some cases, that's your pet.
"They generally eat squirrels, rabbits, but also will eat smaller rodents like mice, voles and shrew," Lizotte said. "However, if they perceive that your dog or cat are in their territory, they may attack."
The recent drought has all animals behaving differently, Lizotte said, as food sources are more scarce for the smallest of animals. The action on one end of the food chain affects the rest, so residents may see changes.
Tips to keep coyotes away from your property:
- Install a six-foot fence. While not the least costly option, this will keep family members and pets safe from prowling coyotes. Coyotes are not high jumpers so the tall fence does a great job of keeping them away.
- Light it up: Coyotes are night animals so it is also suggested that lighting up the yard an home perimeter will also keep them away. Like most wild animals, coyotes have an instinctual fear of fire and light triggers the same "keep away" response in them.
- Trash is their treasure: Keep all yard and other trash put away in locked cans or dumpsters. One reason coyotes come around is for a free meal. Be sure to put away all foods from outdoor parties as well. This will keep odors from luring coyotes and other scavengers away from normal feeding grounds and into your yard.
- Fence in your produce: Gardens in the yard are another banquet for wild predators such as coyotes. Be sure to keep yard gardens and compost piles well enclosed. Coyotes may still smell the garbage from the compost pile and the food in the garden but the fence will keep them away from it.
- Talk to neighbors about following these same tips for keeping coyotes away from the yard. If the whole neighborhood is working to keep coyotes away, your yard becomes a safer place.
- Keep yard bushes trimmed and yard trimmings thrown away. This gives predators like coyotes no available place to hide. Be sure the yard has no convenient den spots. This would be a cave like place that provides shelter, rather than keeping coyotes away.
- Keep pets inside and away from coyotes, especially if you aren't going to be with them. When pets are in the yard, either stay with them or keep them in a coyote safe enclosure. Allowing pets to roam freely is like providing food for the coyotes. It does nothing to keep them away from the neighborhood or yard.
- Use caution when walking at night in a neighborhood known to have coyotes. Bring a flashlight to keep coyotes away. Whenever walking a pet away from the yard, keep the pet on a short leash. Pick the pet up if coyotes are encountered.
- If you see a coyote, become a nuisance and keep a safe distance away. Make a great deal of noise by banging on pots and pans or other metal. Loud noises will keep coyotes away from the yard. Coyotes can also be kept away from the yard by throwing stones at them.
- Mark your territory, sort of. There are animal urine repellents that will also keep coyotes away from unfenced yards. You can get them here. Coyotes will not go near the territories of some animals.