Keeping Coyotes, Bobcats out of Apartment Communities
A coyote standing at the perimeter of apartment communities isn’t an invitation for a photo or admiration for nature. Rather, the longer the animal is permitted to intrude upon the property, the more likely it will be back and potentially create a nuisance for staff and residents.
“Urban coyotes have learned that people in cities are very timid and they have nothing to fear,” says coyote whisperer Bonnie Bradshaw, who operates 911 Wildlife, an animal and wildlife removal, relocation and control service in Texas.
Coyotes, bobcats are familiarizing with humans
Coyotes are frequently seen in neighborhoods, including in and around apartment communities, in even the largest cities in the country. With the exception of Hawaii, Canis latrans live mostly in harmony with humans where natural food sources like squirrels, rodents and rabbits – and even man-made food and garbage – are available. Generally, they are not aggressive toward humans but do pose dangers to small pets. As tempting as it is to photograph or observe them, people should discourage coyotes from hanging around neighborhoods and apartments, she said.
Bradshaw recently hosted an informational session in Lewisville, Texas, about how to cope with coyotes and bobcats. The city put on the event in response to growing concern in the area about the intrusion of the animals. Matt Martucci, Lewisville’s public information coordinator, said the city doesn’t have an outbreak but sightings this time of year are common because coyotes and bobcats are more active in cooler temperatures.
“It’s not so much that numbers of coyotes and bobcats are exploding, it’s just that people are seeing them more because of the cooler weather, and because humans don’t try to scare them away anymore,” Martucci said. “The animals have become sort of domesticated. They are very used to walking around neighborhoods and people walking away from them, not trying to scare them off.”
Don’t give coyotes and bobcats a reason to hang around
Coyotes and bobcats typically seek quiet places, like behind outbuildings and under patio decks when they’re not in the wild. Construction noise will drive them away, but as long as they feel welcome they will hang around.
Bradshaw’s advice for apartment residents and staff is to remove food supplies and haze the animals to go elsewhere. Making noise from a safe distance can drive them away. And picking up bird seed that attracts smaller animals like rodents and squirrels, plus eliminating cat food and dog food, won’t give coyotes a reason to encroach.
“What’s been shown the most effective way to eliminate the presence of these animals is to act aggressively toward them,” she said. “Clap your hands, wave your arms or shout at it.”
Educating residents on how to discourage coyotes, bobcats
A little education among residents goes a long way toward the safety of the community.
According to the Humane Society of the United States, coyotes don’t pose a dangerous threat toward humans. It’s more likely that people will be killed by errant golf balls and flying champagne corks each year than being bitten by a coyote, says the agency.
Only twice have coyote attacks resulted in human deaths in North America. Also, fewer than five people per year in the U.S. and Canada are bitten by coyotes, usually when coyotes are being fed or when the person attempts to rescue a pet that has been attacked, Bradshaw said.
Coyotes and bobcats will prey on pets like cats or small dogs. Larger dogs pose more of a danger, so they tend to shy away from confrontation. However, Bradshaw and Martucci say that residents should not leave pets unattended in areas where coyotes and bobcats have been seen.
“If everybody in the apartment community knows to do this hazing ritual, then the bobcat or coyote will start getting the impression they are not wanted there,” Martucci said. “Second, I would encourage them to tell their property manager that they saw a bobcat or coyote. Certainly, call animal control for assistance.”
Tips to discourage coyote habitation and intrusion
- Clean up your property to minimize where coyotes like to stay. Eliminate brush piles and openings under structures. Prune lower limbs and branches of shrubs and small trees to a height of 2 feet to deprive coyotes of cover where they can easily hide.
- Manage bird feeders carefully to avoid spillage that attracts rodents and rabbits, which are attractive coyote prey. Ask residents not to leave cat food outdoors.
- Avoid using landscape plants that produce fruits and seeds, and pick fruit from trees before it falls to the ground to avoid attracting coyotes.
- Install quality fencing around garden plots to exclude coyotes, as they will eat many common garden fruits and vegetables.
- Compost piles should be managed carefully so they will not encourage rodents or other prey attractive to coyotes, and they should be fenced or contained to exclude coyotes from foraging for grubs and worms.
- Eliminate available water sources for coyotes and other wildlife; for example, remove ponds or fountains, or install net wire fences around their perimeter.