Pet owners beware

This is the first of a three-part series on Coyotes, Hawks, Owls and Snakes. Arizona coyotes are highly adaptable predators and as we keep building in their territory, they move into our residential areas. One major area they love is golf courses. They have lots of room to roam, and it provides everything they need, from dens to sources of food and water. Yes, there are coyotes in Sun Lakes, and in February, there was an alert that a coyote was on the 7th hole in Palo Verde and went through the walkway to Navajo. It is real, not just a rumor, and we must be aware of the dangers of coyotes in our neighborhoods.

Protecting your dog or cat from coyotes on the walk: First and foremost, always keep your pet on a leash and make sure the leash is no longer than six feet. Avoid taking your walk at sunrise or sunset, which are times when coyotes are particularly active.

What if you run into a coyote? The best approach is avoidance. However, if it is during the mating season from August to January, rules are different than they are from January to July (birthing season).

Off-season: If you see a coyote in the distance, change your route to avoid it. The coyote generally will not try to track and hunt you and will be just as grateful for the missed encounter.

However, if the encounter happens suddenly or you do not have a chance to avoid it and it isn’t breeding season, then you’ll have to scare the coyote off. Secure your pet under a sweater, coat, etc., stand tall and assertive and face the coyote, maintaining eye contact, and don’t turn away. Running can trigger the coyote’s prey drive.

Yell, stomp your feet or use some physical display. Throw stones or branches toward, not at, the coyote to startle them and make them run. Ultimately, walk away from them, maintaining eye contact while making it clear you are leaving the territory they are protecting.

Birthing season: During this time of year, you do not want to harass or scare the coyote off, as they may perceive this as a threat to their pups and will go on the offensive. You want to walk away calmly and slowly, while never turning your back on the coyote but remaining assertive with your body language and energy. Walk backwards if necessary.

Your backyard: Most attacks on dogs occur when people let their dogs out without supervision or are walking them off-leash in areas with coyotes. The interaction between coyote and dog can look like play, darting in and out. This IS NOT PLAY, and leaving your pet out without supervision is very dangerous. You may obtain more information at

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