INDIANAPOLIS -- Coyote sightings are on the rise in parts of central Indiana and officials are warning people to be cautious and keep an eye on their smaller pets.
According to the Indiana Dept. of Natural Resources coyotes are native to Indiana and were a rare sight until the early 1970s when urban development began to expand into more forestry areas.
Today, coyotes can be found throughout the state and are a common sight in many urban areas as suburbs grow and their habitats continue to shrink.
Coyotes generally come into residential areas when they're looking for a source of food. That could include trash, your pet's food or even your small pets.
In recent weeks sightings have been reported in parts of Indianapolis, Fishers, Carmel and Greenwood. Police in Greenwood issued a warning to pet owners earlier this month that attacks from the wild animal on small pets and livestock are on the rise.
Johnson County coyote sightings and attacks have been a common occurrence over the last few years, So much so that the city of Greenwood has created an online database to track coyote sightings in the area. Each sighting lists the time, date and location of the sighting. Like the two shown below that were entered on Feb. 1.
If you live in the Greenwood area and spot a coyote, make sure to log your sighting HERE.
Another place people are turning to report their sightings is through the popular social networking app Nextdoor.
Nextdoor allows users to connect with people who live in their own and nearby neighborhoods.
People use the app to report suspicious activity in their neighborhoods, sell goods and services or keep up with crimes. Lately, the app has been used to warn neighbors about sightings of coyotes.
Indiana isn’t the only state dealing with the creatures getting too close for comfort. A quick Google search for “coyote sightings” will show that just since the beginning of the year, dozens have been spotted in urban areas across the United States.
So what should you do to help keep coyotes out of your neighborhood? We've put together a list of best practices to make your yard and home less appealing to coyotes and other wild animals.
Coyote Prevention Techniques:
Feed pets indoors when possible; pick up leftovers if feeding outdoors and store pet and livestock feed where it’s inaccessible to wildlife.
Eliminate water bowls and other artificial water sources (if possible).
Position bird feeders in a location that is less likely to attract small animals or bring the feeders in at night (to keep coyotes from feeding on the bird food or the other animals).
Do not discard edible garbage where coyotes can get to it. Secure garbage containers
Trim and clean shrubbery near ground level to reduce hiding cover for coyotes or their prey.
Do not allow pets to run free and provide secure nighttime housing for them.
If you start seeing coyotes around your home, discourage them by shouting, making loud noises or throwing rocks but NEVER corner a coyote – always give the coyote a free escape route.
Below are some GUIDELINES from Coyote Smarts on what to do if you see a Coyote:
…crossing a yard or street
Coyotes are most frequently seen and heard during mating season (January-March) and when juveniles start leaving the family pack (September-November). While normally fearful of people, they can sometimes be spotted crossing yards or streets. This behavior is not unusual, especially in residential areas bordering on open space where coyotes find their natural prey. They may simply be taking a shortcut to their favorite hunting ground. This type of sighting generally requires no response—other than making sure that pets and children are secure and that there are no likely food attractants (see Easy Pickin’s) present in the area.
…lounging in a yard or approaching/following people
Coyotes are naturally timid animals and will usually flee at the sight of a human. If they linger or approach, it’s time to begin “hazing.” This is a term applied to the following actions that can be taken to scare coyotes and chase them away:
Be as big and loud as possible. Do not run or turn your back.
Wave your arms, clap your hands, and shout in an authoritative voice.
Make noise by banging pots and pans or using an air horn or whistle.
Throw small stones, sticks, tennis balls or anything else you can lay your hands on. Remember the intent is to scare and not to injure.
Spray with a hose, if available, or a squirt gun filled with water and vinegar.
Shake or throw a “coyote shaker”—a soda can filled with pennies or pebbles and sealed with duct tape.
The effects of hazing may not last unless all food attractants are permanently removed. This information should be shared with neighbors, friends and homeowner’s associations since hazing is most effective when the entire neighborhood is working together.
Hazing should never be attempted if the coyote is accompanied by pups or appears to be sick or injured. If it’s the latter, make a report to the local police or the RI Division of Fish and Wildlife at 401-789-0281.
…failing to respond to hazing
Some coyotes may freeze and stare, or run a short distance and stop. Hazing should be continued until the coyote gets the message and finally leaves the scene. Hazing can work whether the encounter is with a lone coyote or a small pack. If the leader retreats, the rest of the pack will follow. If the coyote refuses to retreat or returns to the area despite persistent hazing, it may be due to the fact that someone is feeding coyotes nearby. This is a cause for concern and should be reported to the local police or animal control officer.
…approaching a pet or a child
Small pets and children should never be left unattended, and dogs should always be walked on a leash. Problems are more likely to occur when the animal is out of the owner’s control. It can also be helpful to carry a noisemaker, squirt gun or pepper spray. If a coyote approaches, pick up the pet or child, then start hazing. If the coyote does not leave, back away slowly while continuing to haze and go indoors if possible. Any aggressive behavior should be reported to the local police or animal control officer. If bites or other injuries are sustained, medical attention should be sought and a report made to the RI Division of Fish and Wildlife at 401-789-0281.