Everyone has a story about coyotes, those raggedy, dog-like animals that howl and yip at night in the hills surrounding our communities.
Some people have seen coyotes run off with household pets, while some pets have never been seen again — assumed to have been the victim of these animals.
I have had two close encounters with them.
One was near my property. I was in the barn feeding the horses, and my dog — a Dalmatian — was not at my heels. I called and called, and she did not come. I found her in front of the barn, in the middle of the street, nose to nose with a coyote.
With me arriving on the scene, the coyote ran off. That was many years ago and, thankfully, good ol’ Buttons did not follow in pursuit.
The other time was while I was out hunting. I came around a corner when a coyote was doing the same; we locked eyes and both froze for a split second — about 15 feet from each other — and then the coyote was gone. (I still say it was too big to be a coyote, but friends have told me wolves are not this far north or west. I dunno.)
My wife tells of a time in Lake Havasu City when a coyote jumped into her backyard with a pet (not hers) in its mouth. Surprising (and sad) to say the least.
Recent news stories have questioned whether you’re allowed to shoot “Wile E. Coyote,” the character from the Looney Tunes cartoons.
The simple answer is “no,” you cannot shoot coyotes.
However, the circumstances could paint a different outcome. If a coyote is attacking you or another human being, if you or your property is threatened, and depending on where you live or are, the answer could be “yes.” (Pets, by the way, legally are property.)
Of course, the key words there are “depending on where you live,” and the circumstances — such as the distance between you and surrounding structures. Also a factor is what you want to use to take the coyote down; a BB gun might be the answer, at least to scare it away.
Side note 1 — Yes, gone are the coyote predator hunts, thanks to a decision by the Arizona Game and Fish Commission on June 21, 2019, outlawing wildlife killing contests across the state. (What the commission members did was to approve a Notice of Final Rulemaking that will need to be approved by the Governor’s Regulatory Review Council (GRRC). The new rule would designate predator or fur-bearing hunt contests, as defined by the rule, an unlawful manner and method of take for the species.)
Side note 2 — Why do we have so many coyotes? (We do have more than we used to.) I say it’s because voters in 1994 approved a ban on leg-hold traps. Proponents said leg-hold traps cause pain and suffering, while the opposition said (at the time) predators cost ranchers $8.2 million per year in Arizona.
Coyotes are predators and their numbers have been increasing ever since. Seems few wild animals prey on them. And, unfortunately, coyotes are not after only roadrunners.
No matter how you feel about this, for most of us the smart thing to do is to keep Fido, Fluffy, Kitty and Oscar (sorry, roll with me here) in a safe, secure place, if not inside your house.
Tim Wiederaenders is an editor at the Prescott Daily Courier and a former resident of Lake Havasu City.