Living with coyotes

Coyotes are a definitely a presence in our area, so to better acquaint the community with these canine carnivores who populate our savannahs and groves, the Fallbrook Land Conservancy conducted a Coyote Forum.

The panel discussion was facilitated by Dana Zenko of the North County Humane Society. The rest of the panel included Ro Rozinko, senior volunteer with the California Department of Fish and Game; Patrick Valentino from the California Wolf Center in Julian; Eric MacPherson, a humane officer with North County Humane Society; and Dana Morin, a graduate student at San Diego State University.

Morin shared some information from her university thesis entitled “The Effects of Urbanization on the Activities of Coyotes in San Diego.” Since new housing developments fragment the coyote habitat, they have had to adapt to the changing environment. Coyotes are omnivores, which means that their diet consists of both plant and animal material; because of this, they more easily adapt to a changing environment.

A coyote’s diet consists of rodents, rabbits, birds and reptiles, but they also feast on a wide variety of vegetation. The coyotes are useful in regulating the rodent population and are considered a “top predator,” as no other animals consider them prey. Coyotes are mostly nocturnal but are also considered crepuscular, which means their activity increases at dawn and dusk. However, some in our area have been known to roam during the day.

Humans inadvertently attract coyotes by leaving seed out for birds or leaving cat or dog food out in the yard, Morin mentioned. The seed will attract birds, which the coyotes consider prey. The coyotes are also known to eat dog or cat food that has been left out. She told the audience to make sure that all garbage cans have secure lids because the garbage attracts small mammals, which are also prey for coyotes.

Patrick Valentino of the California Wolf Center in Julian mentioned that coyotes have thrived in this area. He shared some coyote deterrent ideas that local residents have implemented in order to protect their pets and farm animals from coyote attacks. Lamb sheds have been used protect the sheep, and guard dogs and llamas have been used to scare away coyotes.

The California Department of Fish and Game’s local office receives five to ten calls a day regarding coyotes, said Ro Rozinko, senior volunteer. Because the department is understaffed, “there is no way to respond to all of them,” he said. Rozinko mentioned that calling with old information won’t get a response, but if you call with an immediate problem the department would be more likely to respond. He also stressed that if an animal touches a person it should generate a response.

He cautioned the audience against leaving their dogs and cats out at night and said that the Fish and Game Department cannot act if a coyote takes a pet because the coyotes are just acting on their instinct. If a resident lives in an area populated by coyotes it is prudent for them to bring their animals in at night. He also cautioned the audience against walking small dogs early in the morning, when coyotes are active.

Rozinko said that some people believe that placing mothballs or human hair around the perimeter of their property will help keep coyotes out, but “it doesn’t help,” he said. Picking up fallen fruit will discourage the coyote activity, Rozinko mentioned, because the coyotes like to eat fruit, especially avocados. “Don’t feed them,” he said. “It just encourages them to eat in your yard.”

Eric MacPherson, a humane officer with North County Humane Society, mentioned that lights activated by motion are a good deterrent. He also told the audience that the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department does not deal with coyote issues, but the North County Humane Society does.

“[Coyotes] are free roaming animals and can be where they want,” stressed MacPherson. He also warned that coyotes can carry rabies and because a rabies vaccination is not foolproof, any animal that comes in contact with a coyote must be quarantined.

MacPherson commented, “It is legal to shoot a coyote if it is bothering you, but don’t chase it down the street shooting.” However, he did caution the audience to check on laws regarding the discharge of firearms in their specific areas. Those laws could supersede any laws regarding coyote elimination.

Coyote Forum

Possible Coyote Deterrents

● Refrain from feeding coyotes

● Bring small pets in at night

● Don’t leave pet food out at night

● Build fences higher than six feet

● Blow an air horn

● Blow a referee whistle

● Throw a can full of marbles

● Gather fallen fruit

● Don’t walk small animals at dawn or dusk

● Secure lids on trash cans

● Build sheds for lambs

● Own a guard dog

● Install motion-activated lights

Coyote Forum

Coyote Facts

● Lifespan is about the same as a dog

● Average weight is 31 pounds

● Can run up to 40 mph

● Have well-developed sense of smell and hearing

● Have ability to vocalize 11 different sounds

● Live in a variety of different habitats

● Found in 49 states (none found in Hawaii)

● Home range is around 2.2 square miles

25 Responses to "Living with coyotes"

  1. Jo   November 21, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    Okay, what would you suggest if I have to walk my dog (13lbs) at dusk/dawn? Does an air horn/ cap gun help any? Thanks!

  2. Abby   March 25, 2009 at 11:23 am

    Ok i live in a canyon and there’s lots of coyotes around here and i NEVER let my dogs out once it’s getting dark without being out there with them. However, last night it sounded like they coming on down the hill to the yard and were ready to jump in. My little dog was getting upset and barking and there was a lot of noise in the bushes nearby. Is there a product i can buy that would help keep them back from the yard?? I’m ready to set traps and buy a gun or something. Help?!

  3. jill   March 31, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    Lots of "wildlife" in my town…up next to the mountains. Walking my dogs in the "park" yesterday, two coyotes of large size accousted my brittany. She ran to me…scared to death!, yelping and crying. No injuries, but she loves to run… she’s a hunter. Will it help if I jangle some bells, or blow a whistle as I’m walking through the area?

  4. Christine   June 2, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    I have a 10 week old rottie puppy. It is hot in the afternoons so the only time to walk is in the early morning or at dusk. I saw a large coyote at the top of my driveway yesterday morning. Can they smell the new puppy? My yard is fenced with a 5 foot block fence. Can a coyote jump the fence, grab the puppy and go back over the fence? I am concerned as I have a doggy door. Have had much larger dogs in the past and never had a coyote come into the yard. What should I do?

  5. Debbie   June 19, 2009 at 10:05 am

    got to Phantom Wildlife Deterrent….I have one and it works

  6. xxxxxx   July 20, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Does Coyotes ever harm humans? If they get into a straved state, will they attempt to attack anything that may provide food?

  7. Lorraine   August 4, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    I’m 40 miles west of Chicago and we have coyotes roaming at night in our yards. Several people have lost small dogs in our neighborhood….absolutely do not walk your small dogs at dawn or dusk and don’t let them out in the yard alone. Walking with the air horn is best; they hate loud noises.

  8. Los Angeles   August 17, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    I live in the hills, and have a den of coyotes that live below me. It is a very residential area but there is a wash basin that they live in. They are getting bolder during the day coming into the yard. I came to my drive way and one was scoping my back yard. It did not get scared nor did it wish to leave. It was bothered by me more then anything. It slowly left. They are getting more active during the day now. What should I do? I don’t want my daughter outside as I am worried they well confront her.

  9. wally   September 12, 2009 at 10:10 am

    coyotes ate my goat right by our house

  10. Marie   September 30, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    to Debbie (who has the Phantom Wildlife Deterrent as per message dtd Fri, June 19, 2009):
    how long did it take to receive yours after you ordered it?
    i have one on order now since early June.

  11. Bob in FL   October 20, 2009 at 9:32 am

    Last summer we had started seeing coyotes on our property in Northern Florida. My little ones were afraid to go outside. I tried using an audio CD I found online and haven’t seen any coyotes since. Could be coincidence, could be the disc, but I’m not taking any chances. That thing is playing 24/7. It has also scared the heck out of me a few times. You can pick one up at Good luck.

  12. willard   November 3, 2009 at 9:02 am

    Coyote wasn

  13. Joyce   November 13, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    I would also like to know from Debbie how long it took her to get the Phantom Wildlife Deterrent, and Marie, did you ever get yours? Mine has been on order since August 22 and I can’t get any info from the company. Thanks.

    I live in a canyon area and the coyotes are becoming more brazen. In the past they have gotten several neighborhood cats and small dogs. Would sure like to find something to keep them away from my home.

  14. Patty S., N. SD County, CA   January 15, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Apparently, the company that makes the Phantom Wildlife Deterrent is in some sort of business trouble. Check out the Annapolis, MD Better Business Bureau. The rate an "F" (out of A to F rating). I suspect the MO State Attorney General is involved at this point, as many people on lists have complained about not getting the product, despite paying for it. If you are one, certainly file a complaint with the BBB and with the State Attny General to see if you can get your money back. Too bad. Apparently, it works pretty well. There are a couple of other options, "Run Coyote Run" CD, and the Coyote Roller, which installs on the top of your fenceline are two most effective means of deterrent, besides your shotgun. They have become a serious issue here in San Diego County, CA, being emboldened by the continuing human encroachment to their natural habitat. Yes, they can attack humans, but the likelihood is rare. They are bolder in numbers, and individual rogue, large coyote might be brave enough to attack a child or small human. Yes, they can very easily clear a 6′ fence of any type, and if the fence is scaleable (i.e., chain link) 8′ will not deter them. If they really want something, they’ll also dig under a fence. If you walk in the early morning or evening, take a large, sturdy walking stick, bear spray, or an air horn (but hold tightly to your dog, or you may end up chasing both the dog AND the coyote!) For more info, you can go to UC Davis Pest Notes and read up on Coyote Managerment:
    Lastly, if you are finding coyotes on your property repeatedly, it is because they’ve found something that might be considered a meal. Could be your small child, your pet, or small wildlife (rabbits, ground squirrels and gophers are tops on their list). They scout during the day, and come back to hunt at night, but will snatch an opportunity meal during the day if possible, too. Contact your local county extension office or human society/animal control services to see about having someone come out and trap the offending coyote. Minimize the attractiveness of your yard. Keep an eye on your small kids and pets, eradicate rabbits, ground squirrels and gophers, and if necessary, install the coyote roller on your fences that should be a minimum of 6′ (if your CC&R’s allow). The price we pay here in San Diego/Orange County for living in the hills.

  15. Joseph R   April 2, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I agree with Patty. The roller was just too expensive for us, but I think that the Run Coyote Run CD has been working great for me since December. I run it 24/7 and we haven’t seen any coyotes on our property. Maybe it’s just dumb luck, who knows? I’m just glad we haven’t lost any more animals. You can get the CD at for 20 bucks. A guy named Jeff answered a bunch of questions for me, good people.

  16. Jen   April 20, 2010 at 4:04 am

    I see coyotes come up to my porch at least once a week. I carry an air horn with me when I walk my pups. I’ve nearly lost my chihuahua three times now. Best thing to do is make as much noise as you can. Bang a stick against something metal. Metal on metal. Keys. Clap your hands. Wave your arms and yell loudly. Most often, coyotes are more afraid of you, than you are of them. But be careful. You may come across a really aggressive coyote. We’re dealing with pup season right now. The mother coyotes are coming out to hunt for their pups. Pepper spray and something large and sturdy, like a bat, are advisable in the spring. Just last week, I came across a coyote that wasn’t phased by my usual screaming. It walked right up to my front porch, sat down and waited for me. I had to throw rocks at it to make it move. And even then, it slowly walked away, more annoyed than scared.
    Some of these ideas, like motion sensor lights and sound CDs may work for a short while, but coyotes are very intelligent animals. They’ll eventually figure it out so don’t rely on just one deterrent. Keep several ideas open and handy. Good luck!

  17. Linda Beamer   July 2, 2010 at 10:51 am

    I just wanted people to know that I heard that Dan Jincks the inventor of the Phantom Wildlife Deterrent died in 2009. Someone said he was killed by a drunk driver. I feel really bad as I had talked to him by email several times. That is why people did not get their merchandise. This thing supposed really worked and was easy to run as it used batteries. I would only hope that his invention did not die with him. I hope someone else manufactures it. I feel really bad.

  18. Relative of Dan Jincks   August 24, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I want to confirm that Dan Jincks, inventor of the Phantom Wildlife Deterrent did, in fact, die on 9/17/09 from complications following a car accident on 9/3/09. Unfortunately, Dan’s company was a one man operation and it ceased to exist when he died. As a relative, I want people to know that we tried very hard to get his web site shut down so that orders could not be taken. Pay Pay was notified to return all funds and his PO Box was closed with all contents to be returned to senders. Unfortunately, Dan set up his own website and without his passwords, it was impossible for us to get everything closed in a timely fashion. We don’t want people to think that he ran out on customers with their money. He was very proud of his wildlife deterrent.

  19. Elizabeth   January 8, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Coyotes are a big problem here in South Carolina. They are beginning to come into the towns and are a menace to livestock and pets everywhere. Some farmers, I have been told, are resorting to poison, which is the worst possible deterrent, as it affects the entire food chain and endangers domestic animals as well as coyotes. My dog last night nearly turned himself inside out barking at some coyotes that came onto our property and circled through the neighborhood several times. What, besides fencing (not possible financially for us), lights, and cougar CDs, might work to discourage them? We live next to a huge hunting preserve, and though the hunt goes after coyotes as well as foxes, it’s not keeping numbers down.

  20. Barbara C.   February 21, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I saw this on the internet today and thout I would add some info. I live in the west part of Prince Edward Island, Canada. Today at 2 in the afternoon, there, bold as brass was a coyote in our back garden, about 15 feet from our backdoor. He saw me through the window, looked for a few seconds before trotting off behind a big evergreen and then into the woods for cover. This shows that they do venture out in the afternoon and are getting bolder to get that close to a house.

  21. David   May 17, 2011 at 9:50 am

    This time of year the females are having their young. Becareful in the evenings and mornings and night. I live in rural Alabama and have had my large dog hunted at night as well as 12 chickens killed in the past two weeks. I would suggest doing something about your problem areas. Don’t expect someone else to "fix" your coyote problem. This is your job. Making noise to rid yourself of the coyote is a good idea, but unless you want them back later the noise needs to be made with gun powder… These are professional hunters. I have noticed most of the attacks coming in the hours between 12am and 3am. They will attack anything they think they can kill. I have tried to trap them with live catch traps as well as foot hold traps with good results. Either way you need to think about what you are going to do with the coyote After you catch it. Don’t wait till you catch it. What ever you decide to do remember this, if you do nothing the problem isn’t going to go away.

  22. MMN   June 8, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Fish and Game are busy rounding up wild horses to kill even though
    T. Boone Pickens has purchased 20,000 acres to keep them and care for them, he is not being allowed to save these magnificent creatures. (Our tax dollars at work!!) Yet we are forced to deal with these coyotes who should be taken humanely out of our neighborhoods and kept in a sanctuary. But no, instead we must be terrorized by the fact they can kill our children and even knock us over when they steal and kill our pets and we are supposed to consider this okay since they eat rodents? How can anyone make sense of this insanity? How much do we have to put up with with our completely inept beaurocratic self serving fools?

  23. MMN   June 8, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Just found a cd you can buy, google ‘"run coyote run" coyote deterrent’. It is only $20 and play it 24/7 on a cd player and it will keep the coyotes away.

    We must do all we can to protect our animals!!

  24. GG   August 21, 2011 at 10:44 am

    5 Exotic dogs with a FMV of $3500 a piece, 3 chickens and Mali the cat were attacked. The last attacks were last week. While preparing dinner I let my Sammie out, right outside my window. It was 4:30 PM. Next night, I am soooo cautious and walk my Mi-Ki’s out the office door, where the coyotes were camped waiting under a tree, not 12-feet from my door. My dogs suddenly sniffed and went to protect me, I ran to grab the smallest, Little Foot, (at 3.5 lbs she thinks she a Mountain Lion.) In the time it took to run pick her up, I heard the yelp. They swat teamed my two favorite kayaking buddies. I tried to hire a hunter, but my neighbors refuse to participate. I AM RIPPED. HELP! ANY ADVICE? Would a strobe light help? Ammonia sprayed on their trail? Talk radio?

  25. tweberfree   February 5, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Sorry to hear about the passing of Mr. Jincks. I bought one of his coyote repellers and it worked great until just recently. I want to buy another one or have this one repaired but I can’t figure out how to fix it. He made a good product.


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