With whelping season underway, expect more coyote sightings
ALBUQUERQUE, NM – If you’ve ever walked through an arroyo or open space and encountered a coyote, you’re not alone. Albuquerque city officials say there are hundreds of people living in the subway, which might worry some people.
“It’s not uncommon for them to stop and stare at you, not run away right away, or even follow you for a bit to see who you are, what you are, what you’re doing,” said Nick Pederson, the city’s urban biology division chief.
Their defensive behavior intensifies during the summer months.
“This time of year when we have puppies in a den, these coyotes become much more protective, so it’s not unusual for them to follow people, but especially dog walkers,” said Pederson. “They react strongly to dogs near a den site. They view these dogs as a potential threat to their puppies, so they will follow dog walkers for some distance, and we call this behavior escorting.
Pederson says escort is not the same as bullying.
“They escort the dog and its owner out of their territory to make sure the dog leaves and the puppies are safe,” he said.
Coyotes typically walk the other way once a person or group walks past their den. Pederson said attacks do happen, but not very often, and usually involve dogs exploring off-leash.
“Make sure your dog stays on a leash,” he said. “If it’s a small dog and you’re worried about coyotes getting too close, pick up that dog and carry it, so it’s not on the ground, but leave that space or continue in the direction you were moving, and eventually those coyotes will peel off and stop following.
If a coyote makes you feel uncomfortable or becomes aggressive, city officials say to scare the animal away from you, then call 311 to report the incident.
“It’s important to hold your ground, to make yourself look tall, to raise your hand, even to throw small pebbles, sticks of rocks yelling at the coyote,” he said. “We often encourage people who spend a lot of time in areas frequented by coyotes to use walking sticks, or maybe even carry pepper spray or an air horn, which make a loud noise to scare this coyote away. animal and keep it away from them. An important thing to do is not to run away.
Pederson also says don’t feed the coyotes or try to pet them. If a coyote bites or injures someone, call 911.
Click here for more information on coyotes in the subway and what to do if you encounter one.