Coyotes have been in Malden for years, but a recent spotting near Linden School last week has left parents and neighbors spooked.
Experts say coyotoes possess a natural fear of humans and very rarely attack them - statistically, Americans have a much greater chance of being hit by lightning than attacked by a coyote.
However, they do pose a risk to family pets. While coyotes don't necessarily crave our schnauzers and calicoes, they can become easy targets in a moment of starved desperation.
Worse yet, by giving our dogs and cats a safe, stress-free life, they grow desensitized to their status as natural prey, becoming easy targets for dangers lurking in the bushes.
However, by following a few precautionary tips from Animal Samaritans this summer, your family's pet will be much safer with a coyote afoot:
1. Never feed a coyote. It's better to keep coyotes scared and away from you than to befriend them. Feeding coyotes won't keep them from stalking your pets; on the contrary, it can give coyotes the bravado to boldly go where they haven't gone before--like into your backyard or through the doggy door.
2. Don't leave pet food in the yard. If coyotes smell and discover your pets' food bowls, they'll help themselves and be back for more. Instead, feed your dogs and cats inside. Also, keep fallen fruit off the ground and out of the yard, as it can also attract resourceful predators. Finally, keep a tight lid on your trash cans, and never leave trash bags accessible to four-legged scavengers.
3. Keep your pets indoors from dusk to dawn. If your pets need to go outside for exercise and potty breaks in the evenings, keep them on a leash. Cat owners, if your kitty won't wear a harness, (and most cat owners haven’t leash trained their cats) keep her close by. Coyotes are much faster than we are, even while running with prey in their mouths.
4. Enclose your back yard with a wall or fence. Make it at least six feet high, and because coyotes instinctively dig, install a vinyl lattice or chicken wire 2 to 3 feet underground. This should stop a determined coyote from tunneling in.
5. If you walk your pets at night, keep them on a leash. This is especially important if you walk them along golf courses and desert chaparral.
6. Finally, to help guard your smaller pets adopt a large dog from a local animal shelter, like a German shepherd, Rottweiler, or mastiff. Okay, so this might be a blatant plea to adopt from a local animal shelter--but the big ones will protect the little ones!