Amid increasing reports of coyote and fox activity around Twin Falls and other areas of Magic Valley, Fish and Game is reminding recreationists to take additional precautions with their pets to reduce the risk of potential conflicts with coyotes and foxes, especially during denning season.
One of the easiest ways to prevent conflicts between dogs and coyotes is to keep your dog on a leash at all times when outside a properly fenced area. It is also required by City Code to keep dogs on a leash when outside a fenced residence.
Fish and Game officials in the Magic Valley Region were recently made aware of two non-fatal coyote incidents with off-leash dogs. The first encounter with an aggressive coyote occurred near Hagerman near Justice Grade when an off-leash dog was bitten by a coyote. Fish and Game also received a report that a hiker, along with her unleashed dogs encountered aggressive coyotes along the Auger Falls trail system in the Snake River Canyon.
City Code requires all dogs to be leashed, or contained within a residence or properly fenced area, at all times while in the Twin Falls City limits.
A third encounter involved a fox that aggressively approached a man walking through a large vacant lot near Fred Meyer in Twin Falls. The report also noted that domestic cats have disappeared from the neighborhood.
Coyotes can be found throughout Idaho and the recent incidents around the City of Twin Falls occurred near the peak of the coyote and fox breeding season, when coyotes and foxes can become more territorial. Coyotes and foxes are highly adaptable animals and denning can occur even in city parks or along urban river corridors, which have good hiding habitat and abundant prey species.
Encounters between coyotes and domestic dogs can happen at any time of year, but the risk increases during the mating season (late February to early March) when coyotes – particularly males – become more aggressive. That’s also the case during denning season in spring and early summer, when coyotes are inclined to protect their young around their den sites.
Below are steps homeowners and recreationists can take to keep their pets safe and prevent coyotes and foxes in urban areas from becoming habituated to living near people:
* Remove or secure coyote attractants — such as pet food, trash or dog feces — as well as attractants for native species that coyotes are known to prey on. Coyotes typically eat small animals such as mice, voles, squirrels, gophers, raccoons, skunks and foxes.
* Don’t leave your dog outside unsupervised, particularly in areas where coyote conflicts have been known to occur.
* If possible, ensure your property boundaries are secure by keeping fences in good repair and letting your dogs out for bathroom breaks only in fenced areas, particularly at night.
* Clear away brushy areas around your property that coyotes may see as safe denning or hiding spots.
* Keep dogs on-leash when using trails.
* Consider bringing a loud noisemaker with you – a whistle, bell or horn – which can be helpful in scaring off a coyote.
* Carrying bear spray and know how to use it. It’s not just for bears and can also be used as a highly effective tool against other wildlife if an unsafe encounter occurs.
* When hiking, make noise to announce your presence.
* Be present in the moment, and aware of your surroundings and your dog. Don’t use earbuds or headphones while hiking.
* If you know that an area has recently experienced dog-coyote encounters, consider using a different trail system or an entirely different recreation area in the Magic Valley.
For more information, contact the Magic Valley Fish and Game Regional Office at (208) 324-4359.