Coyotes have taken over our neighborhood – again.
Some say the coyotes were here first and that we should move if we don’t like it. Others offer to loan us a gun.
We are not going to move after 40 years of peaceful coexistence with neighborhood cats, dogs, ants, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, opossum, deer and — yes, even coyotes. We are also not interested in nor are we trained with guns or poison. Coyotes can move at lightning speed and will flash from view before I can grab my camera, let alone aim a gun. Anyway, what would I do with the carcass? More to my point, the gun solution is illegal.
Coyotes leave yellowed traffic paths in our ground cover, dead areas on the hillside where they camp and urinate, and dying potted plants where they repeatedly chew plastic watering tubes.
My husband and I started with moderate strategies: he patched gaps in the fence and altered our night time watering schedule to random, unpredictable times. I rubbed hot pepper sauce on plastic watering tubes to discourage coyotes chewing. Don installed motion-sensor lights on all sides of the house. These attempts helped, but after several power outages in our area, Don tired of having to repeatedly reset the lights and the timers. Soon sprinklers washed off the hot sauce.
Every day, we encountered canis latrans fecal droppings on the driveway, prompting a Morning Poop Patrol before backing our car out of its garage. We have no pets but we do have visiting grandchildren. It motivates us to stay indoors, especially after the neighbors lost all their cats.
Just when we thought the invasion might be ebbing, we noticed our morning newspaper was missing: pulled from its plastic bag and strewn down into the gully across the street. The advertising section was left in the bag, so we joked about having literate coyotes, accent on litter. I even spotted a coyote trotting down the driveway to meet the newspaper deliveryman. Pre-dawn “coyote chatter” (more yipping than yelping) led my husband to comment they were probably arguing over the sports section.
They jumped the back fence
like dolphins performing at Sea World…
So, even after mothballs, hot sauce, surprise watering rotations, security lights and loud noises, coyotes once again prowl the property. This morning we scared off five of them. They jumped the back fence like dolphins performing at Sea World, then our neighbor turned on his light and yelled “Hey! Get out of here!” The pack jumped back into our yard and ran out the front.
The good news is that we are safely ensconced indoors and I can still enjoy my morning paper – if I get to it before the coyotes do.
This article appeared in the Gateway Register, April 2014. Barber is a retired teacher who grew up with dogs and Road Runner cartoons.