Tag Archives: coyote

Coyote in the Neighborhood

A coyote
A coyote causing problems in a neighborhood.

The closest I’d ever been to a coyote was when some friends and I were hiking and camping in the mountains of Northern Utah.  We’d stopped for a break while hiking, when my friend pointed to a cluster of trees about 2 football fields away from us.  An animal bounded out of the cover, moving fairly quickly.  At first, we all assumed it was a deer, because it was about the height of a deer, a brown/tan color, and moved easily through the underbrush.  Then, I noticed the bushy tail and the fact that it wasn’t “bounding” so much as “loping quickly.”  We concluded it must be a coyote and finished our hike, since it didn’t get anywhere near us.

But, then, a few years later, I took up running.  I especially liked running early in the morning, just as the stars start to fade and the day begins and everyone is still sleeping.  It’s a time of day that feels secret, unsullied by life’s daily worries.  Then, I turned a corner and came face to face with it.  A coyote in my neighborhood.  Well, when I say face to face, I really mean it was about four houses away.  Coyotes can run fast, up to forty miles an hour, and I knew I had no chance of outrunning it if it decided to charge.

There was a timeless, breathless moment as I stared at the coyote in the neighborhood, wondering if I was about to be seriously hurt or maimed, and what I could possibly do to stop it.  They say you’re not ever supposed to surprise a wild animal, as if the world was populated by idiots who enjoy sneaking up on natural predatory creatures and yell “Boo!”  If I’d known there was a coyote in the neighborhood, you can bet I wouldn’t have been running alone at that time of day, hoping to surprise it.

That coyote just looked at me and finally simply turned and walked off in the opposite direction, without another glance at me.  I made it safely home and immediately texted the Home Owner’s Association president to let her know we had a coyote in the neighborhood.  And, I think I’ll take up swimming.

Coyote Problem

A coyote
A coyote causing problems in a neighborhood.
(Artwork by Sharon Davis. Contact us for her contact info.)

I thought coyote problems only happened in really remote areas of the country, in places where people ranched or farmed and had to get in their truck to drive to visit their closest neighbors.  My uncle has a pig ranch in Idaho, and he talks about how he lost a favorite dog to a coyote one night when the dog ran off instead of coming inside, or how mad he was when a coyote destroyed all of his chickens.  When we’d visit my uncle, my sisters and I always had a great time, with the exception of the pig smell and the sound of the coyotes at night.

So, you can imagine how I felt the other night when I went out of my cute cookie-cutter house in my little cookie-cutter neighborhood to take the garbage cans down to the street for pickup the next morning, and heard a pack of coyotes yipping and barking to each other somewhere close to the neighborhood.

I couldn’t believe it, and my uncle’s stories came flooding back to me.  I don’t live in the boonies.  I live in a very populated suburban area.  True, the subdivisions went up only about six years ago, but the area was built up very quickly and is more densely populated.  Surely we couldn’t have coyote problems here.  Surely, I couldn’t be more wrong.

My husband didn’t believe me until he left for work early the next morning, and heard the coyotes’ wild sounds floating across the still subdivision.  In talking with other neighbors, we discovered a few households had lost a cat, and just figured the cat had wandered off.  Now, we suspect a far worse fate for beloved pets.  As we became more aware of the coyote problem, people stopped going jogging by themselves in the evening or early morning hours.  Parents started making children stay inside instead of walking by themselves to a friend’s house.  While the coyotes had not yet posed a real threat to a human, the potential was there, and we changed our lifestyles slightly to be more careful.

I soon grew tired of it, and so did my children, who wanted to get back outside with their friends to ride bikes or play soccer.  I wanted to stop worrying about the dog, who wasn’t raised to be an indoor pet.

While there is a bounty on coyotes in our state, we still live in a populated area, and can’t just go out coyote hunting without putting a lot of people at risk.  So, we needed a professional service to get rid of the coyote problem for us.  Fortunately, most of the neighborhood was willing to chip in, and we got a really good expert through Allstate Animal Control.  We’re all still pretty wary, realizing that, even though we’re not in a remote area of the country, we can still have clashes with wild animals.