15 Nov 2011 Coyote Forum at the Nichols Community Center
An excellent and well-attended forum was organized by FICRA and presented by representatives of Washington Sate Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Q&A was lively and informative. Key points from the forum include:
- Coyotes are everywhere in Washington State with large populations on Fox Island and Anderson Island – interestingly both islands have large deer populations too.
- They are territorial and will defend that territory from other coyotes
- They are omnivorous, excellent hunters and scavengers, and generally an important part of the natural system. They eat rodents and other small game, fruits, vegetables and natural waste.
- They are also opportunists and will eat dog and cat food, garbage, compost fruits, vegetables, as well as cats and small dogs if given the chance
- They are normally elusive and avoid human contact. However, through human contact, they will lose their fear of humans and become a problem coyote
- If approached or confronted by a problem/aggressive coyote, pick up small children, make yourself seem larger by standing up straight and don’t run. It is a good idea to carry a stick, pepper spray or other means of defense when walking or jogging. The USDA representatives only knew of two confirmed reports of coyotes biting people in state of Washington.
- Coyotes use their feet to climb over and dig under things such as fences and are even willing to slide through the wires of an electric fence
- A best practice for living with coyotes is to remove the opportunity for them to frequent your yard and area around your house by proper fencing and barriers, keeping chickens and rabbits in secure pens, not leaving pet food outside, not feeding stray animals, keeping garbage and compost in tight containers and your small pets inside at night – generally remove the food sources and opportunities for them to gain a quick and easy meal
- The USDA representatives indicated it is not possible to eradicate all coyotes because as one is removed another will take his or her place
- We are not allowed to shoot them unless we are protecting our livestock, our children or ourselves. Remember there is a county ordinance against discharging a firearm on Fox Island.
- The USDA is a resource for information on dealing with coyotes and to help remove problem coyotes (this is done by shooting them) – They only remove coyotes they deem as a problem and will not kill coyotes to reduce the population.
- The USDA, when engaged to deal with problem coyotes, will assess the situation including what the owner has done to secure their property and animals from encouraging coyotes to visit, to what degree there are problem/aggressive coyotes in the area and, where indicated, remove problem coyotes. There is a fee for this service that the owner(s) has to pay.
- The USDA representatives stated that it would cost around $5,000 to remove a few of the problem coyotes (those that have lost heir fear of humans). However, if people do not do their part to remove the attractions (food, garbage, outdoor pets, etc.), then they will simply resurface in a short period of time.
- There is no government agency that provides a free service for removing problem coyotes – the owners and neighbors must request the removal service and pay for it themselves.
- Excellent animals to discourage coyotes are donkeys, llamas and mules
- Both the WDFW and USDA representatives stated that it is critical for people to educate themselves about coyotes. They both recommend the WDFW’s website “Living with Wildlife” http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/ This is an excellent resource for understanding other wildlife we have on Fox Island, such as deer, raccoons, and the occasional bear.
- FICRA will continue to provide resource information about coyotes on our website www.FICRA.org