Urban Coyotes in Shavano Park

960px-Coyote_in_AlaskaOver the years, there have been numerous concerns about coyotes in Shavano Park. The City has done quite a bit of coyote research on the situation and shares below some thoughts on this very complex situation.

The Texas Wildlife Services and other agencies will only provide us with technical support (info).  Their District Biologist referred the City to an article which we’ve included an excerpt below on common sense precautions.  They told us the following:

  • Education is the key; methods and tools in removing coyotes are very limited
  • Protect and monitor pets; ensure they are vaccinated for rabies
  • Habitat modification is required; minimize brush / cover and food sources
  • If you encounter a coyote, take an aggressive posture / make noise
  • We can try to trap them, but we will not achieve a lot of success
  • Urban setting makes it extremely difficult to have much effect
  • Toxins or Leg Hold Traps should not be used in urban setting; must use a live cage administered by pest control company and you are likely to mostly catch raccoons, opossums and skunks.  This is also a costly endeavor.

Staff called a local animal control company who has experience trapping numerous types of animals.  We explained the basic situation and after considering the situation they called us back with a proposal.

  • Cages traps would not be very effective; they would use leg traps placed 18-24 inches to try to minimize catching other animals
  • Fairly significant costs to set up a pre-baited area for three weeks.  Additional costs per coyote trapped; coyote then euthanized.
  • This option is simply not acceptable

Additional thoughts:
  • The leg trap solution doesn’t seem humane or reasonable and there is too much risk
  • With the Olmos Creek and Salado Creek basin / drainage system and the significant number of greenbelts, pinpointing where they live and trapping them would be a significant challenge. 
  • Success would be very limited.
  • The area will repopulate over time.

7902246736_4ce71bc350_o-1-copyFrom Article posted on Texas Parks and Wildlife website -
There are some common sense precautions people can take to manage coyotes:
  • Do not feed coyotes! Keep pet food and water inside. Keep garbage securely stored, especially if it has to be put on the curb for collection; use tight-locking or bungee-cord-wrapped trashcans that are not easily opened.
  • Keep compost piles securely covered; correct composting never includes animal matter like bones or fat, which can draw coyotes even more quickly that decomposing vegetable matter.
  • Keep pets inside, confined securely in a kennel or covered exercise yard, or within the close presence of an adult.
  • Walk pets on a leash and accompany them outside, especially at night.
  • Do not feed wildlife on the ground; keep wild bird seed in feeders designed for birds elevated or hanging above ground, and clean up spilled seed from the ground; coyotes can either be drawn directly to the seed, or to the rodents drawn to the seed.
  • Keep fruit trees fenced or pick up fruit that falls to the ground.
  • Do not feed feral cats (domestics gone wild); this can encourage coyotes to prey on cats, as well as feed on cat food left out for them.
  • Minimize clusters of shrubs, trees and other cover and food plants near buildings and children's play areas to avoid attracting rodents and small mammals that will in turn attract coyotes.
  • Use noise making and other scaring devices when coyotes are seen. Portable air horns, motor vehicle horns, propane cannons, starter pistols, low-powered pellet guns, slingshots, and thrown rocks can be effective.