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Looking for a solution for your urban rat problem? They've been here all along

Coyotes may be just what you're looking for.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/BC Wildlife
October 11, 2019 - 6:00 AM

Swells of yipping and howling, rising in volume as night falls is a common feature of Okanagan life.

Coyotes live in packs and form their dens in the forested hillsides of the valley without anybody really becoming aware of it, said Meg Bjordal, the Okanagan Westside WildSafeBC community co-ordinator.

That sound is simply a conversation, and despite commentary to the contrary on neighbourhood Facebook forums, they’re not that interested in getting in your business.

There have actually been fewer sightings of coyotes in recent months. From Kelowna to Peachland, there were 22 coyote reports in 2016, 33 in 2017, 14 in 2018 and as of September this year, there have only been 11. 

Bjordal didn’t offer a reason for the fluctuating sightings, which are recorded on its Wildlife Alert Reporting Page, she did say that the coyote is a misunderstood creature.

“They are a unique animal can adapt to a wide variety of areas, including urban areas,” she said. 

“They can be curious animals and be interested in other dogs.”

In some cases the behaviour is playful, in others they may become defensive and for the safety of all involved, she recommends domestic dogs and coyotes not be allowed to play. 

“Our urban coyotes are typically more active in the evenings when people are in their homes,” Bjordal said. “They’re not technically nocturnal, but urban animals that adapt to living around humans can change behaviours to be more active at night, same as raccoons and bears, when people aren’t around.”

If you see a coyote, she reccomends scaring it away by making noises, such as banging pots and pans and talking in a loud voice.

There may be a downside to that, though.

“Coyotes can be beneficial,” she said. “Their primary prey is mice and rats and critters we don’t want. They do us a great service by controlling rodent populations. The downside is humans can become in conflict with them when you have small pets.”

If you'd still rather keep coyotes away remember these tips:

  1. Keep all garbage securely stored until the morning of collection.
  2. Keep your pets indoors, especially at night. Coyotes can prey upon cats and small dogs if the opportunity arises.
  3. Clean up any spilled seed under bird feeders to avoid attracting rodents which may attract coyotes.
  4. Feed pets indoors. If you must feed outdoors, bring in any uneaten food immediately so it won’t attract coyotes.
  5. Manage your compost properly to avoid attracting rodents which may attract coyotes. Turn compost regularly and alternate layers of ‘greens’ and ‘browns’.
  6. If you have chickens or small livestock, use a properly installed and maintained electric fence to keep livestock inaccessible to coyotes.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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