With pupping season underway, expect more coyote sightings
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — If you have ever been walking in an arroyo or open space, and run into a coyote, you are not alone. City of Albuquerque officials say there are hundreds living in the metro, which might worry some people.
“It’s not unusual for them to stop and look at you, may not run away right away, or potentially even follow you for a little bit to see who you are, what you are, what you’re doing,” said Nick Pederson, the city’s Urban Biology Division Manager.
Their defensive behavior intensifies during the summer months.
“This time of year, when we have pups in a den, those coyotes become much more protective, and so it’s not unusual for them to follow people, but especially follow those people that are walking dogs,” Pederson said. “They have a strong response to dogs near a den site. They view those dogs as a potential threat to their pups. So they’ll follow dog walkers for some distance, and we call that behavior escorting.”
Pederson says escorting is not the same as stalking.
“They are escorting the dog and its owner off their territory to ensure that the dog leaves and the pups are safe,” he said.
Coyotes will typically walk the other way once a person or group passes their den. Pederson said attacks do happen, but not very often, and they usually involve dogs that are exploring off-leash.
“Make sure your dog stays on a leash,” he said. “If it’s a small dog, and you’re concerned about coyotes approaching too closely, pick that dog up and actually carry it, so it’s not on the ground, but then leave that space or keep going in the direction that you were moving, and eventually those coyotes will peel off and stop following.”
If a coyote makes you 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 stand your ground, make yourself look big, raise your hand, even throw small pebbles, sticks stones yell at the coyote,” he said. “We often encourage people that spend a lot of time in areas where coyotes frequent to use walking sticks, or maybe even carry pepper spray or an air horn, that makes a loud noise to startle that animal and keep it away from them. One important thing to do is to not run away.”
Pederson also says not to feed coyotes or attempt to pet them. If a coyote bites or injures someone, call 911.
Click here for more information on coyotes in the metro and what to do if you come into contact with one.