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With Seattle coyote sightings on the rise, should pet owners be concerned?

With reports of Seattle coyotes seemingly at an all time high, many are wondering what’s causing the influx and if there’s anything people should do to deter them from entering their own backyards.

UW Tacoma assistant professor Christopher Schell joined the Candy, Mike and Todd Show to discuss all things coyote.

“It’s really that coyotes are just super adaptable. They know how to live around people and how to adjust to us and adjust their behaviors accordingly,” he said.

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“If anything the coyotes are — as the cliche goes — more scared of you than you are of them so they tend to stay away from people as much as they possibly can. And they they serve really well as the ecosystem service for all of the things like rabbits and rodents and things that we find icky.”

But as KIRO Radio’s Mike Lewis points, the issue of concern is “that the coyotes do come in and they do a pretty decent job on the on the feral rabbits, but then they start doing a pretty decent job on people’s cats and small dogs and whatnot.”

Should pet owners be concerned about this and take precautions?

“They should be concerned only in so far as they’d be keeping your cat indoors if you can,” Schell said. “I know that certain cities on the West Coast tend to have more coyotes that eat cats than others. So Los Angeles, for instance, and in places like San Diego and Long Beach, their diet could be anywhere from 5 to 20 percent cat, but here we don’t quite know that yet.”

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Schell says it’s a misnomer that coyotes were here before us and that we’re encroaching on their territory.

“Most of their range was restricted to the Great Plains until later in the 1900s, and it was because of urbanization, and because of pretty much getting rid of wolves all throughout North America that coyotes said, ‘Hey there’s this open space, I’m just gonna take this.'”

“So they are actively getting into and colonizing urban environments, rather than them always being here. And then the buildings came and destroyed habitat. So they’re responding to the differences in habitat.”

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The key question is: What exactly should you do if a coyote is heading toward you?

“You gotta lift yourself up and look as big as you can, clap your hands, yell at the animal and tell it to run away. Even just running towards it. It will sprint in the opposite direction.”

Listen to The Candy, Mike, and Todd Show weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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