Coyotes have been spotted throughout the Cape May County area in recent months. Although they normally do not pose any danger to humans, they can be a danger to small animals. Shore Animal Control has provided some tips to help keep your pets safe and prevent any tragedy. Small dogs and cats are especially vulnerable if left outdoors alone.
NEVER leave your pet unattended: Keep an eye on your pet when you open the back door to let him out and do not let him stray too far away from you. Whenever possible, take your dog out on a leash. You should use a 6-foot leash, not a retractable leash, as they provide little to no control if your pet encounters a coyote. Also avoid walking your dog during twilight hours as coyotes are more active at night, so it’s best to keep an extra eye on your pet when you let him out after the sun goes down. Carry a headlamp or flashlight when walking your dog at night.
Cover and secure all garbage cans: Garbage cans should be secured with wildlife proof lids. All cans should be sprayed with ammonia inside and out each time you open them to remove any food smell which attracts wildlife.
Do not feed wildlife: One of the biggest reasons that coyotes are coming into neighborhoods is the attraction of food.. If you feed feral cats, the food should be removed 30 minutes after each feeding to discourage wildlife from sharing the food.
Do not feed your pet outside: As food can be a big attractor of coyotes, giving your pet his dinner indoors is always a good idea. If you feel you must feed your pet outside, feed midday at a set time and pick up leftovers immediately.
Be extra mindful during coyote breeding season: April is when the coyotes are going to have their young and April through August is when they are going to be more protective of their young, Walk a dog on leash and be cognizant of coyotes in the area.
Remove any kind of attractants around the exterior of you house: Feeding wildlife and birds can attract coyotes to your yard. Attractants for coyotes include compost, dirty grills, and birdseed. Birdseed, for instance, can attract rodents and, therefore, attract coyotes. Fallen fruit should also be cleaned up, as coyotes consume large amounts of fruit during certain points in the year.
Make your yard a less attractive habitat: Keep trees and shrubbery trimmed to reduce cover, which makes great hiding places for coyotes. You can install coyote-proof fences (these are typically quite high) or use motion-triggered deterrents like light or sprinkler systems. Fences should be at least 6-foot high and buried at least 6 inches underground or fitted with a mesh apron on the outside of the fence extending 12 inches out from the bottom of the fence and secured with landscape.
Shore Animal Control advises anyone who has spotted them in their backyard and has a concern, to contact Fish & Game at 1-877-927-6337. For more information, please visit their website at https://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/coyote_info.htm.