In the coming months, Regionites may hear high-pitched howls ringing through the chilly air. As the coyote mating season begins in January, Indiana's wily canines tend to be more active during their breeding months.
When it comes to keeping people and pets safe, Indiana Department of Natural Resources website has information and tips for those in rural and urban communities alike.
Sometimes mistaken for stray dogs, coyotes can have orange, gray or tan fur and typically weigh between 25 to 40 pounds, about the same as a medium-sized dog, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. One tell-tale feature is their bushy black-tipped downward tails. Coyotes living in urban environments tend to dwell in natural green spaces like parks and cemeteries and are most active at night.
According to the DNR, coyotes were recorded in the state as early as 1816 and originally lived only in the prairie regions of Indiana. However with the eradication of wolves, coyotes' populations have increased and have expanded to everywhere in the state.
Coyotes typically mate from January to March and give birth to their pups in the spring. While coyote attacks on people are rare, the animals have been known to attack pets.
Keep property coyote-free by:
- Never storing pet food outside unattended. Even food that attracts other wildlife, such as bird seed, can attract coyotes in search of small prey.
- Keep trash in a closed garage or use tightly sealing lids for garbage cans. Even compost bins can attract coyotes, since they also eat fruits and vegetables.
- Remove brush and undergrowth from lawns and backyards, which can provide cover for coyotes.
Keep safe by:
- Make sure all pets are either indoors or in a secure space if left outside unattended. Dog pens, chicken runs and rabbit hutches should have covered tops and secure perimeters.
- If a coyote is spotted, they can be scared away by making startling noises, such as shaking a can of coins or using an air horn, or by spraying them with water or throwing a ball, shoe or stick at them.
- The DNR warns against cornering a coyote. Always give them an escape route to run away.