Tips on how to handle a coyote encounter in Utah

Local News

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Two wild coyotes were spotted on campus at the University of Utah, and officials are warning others to stay cautious and informing them how to stay prepared in case of a possible encounter.

On March 6, the University of Utah states the following;

“Two coyotes were spotted on campus the evening of March 6, 2021, in active pursuit of a deer. University police officers responded to the area and confirmed the sighting. The animals were last seen leaving Officers Circle, heading toward Red Butte Canyon just after 8 p.m.”

According to officials, those on campus or visiting the Red Butte Canyon area should be cautious and aware of their surroundings, especially if accompanied by pets. 

Here are some safety tips provided by the University, when venturing out on campus or hiking nearby:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and avoid distractions. Try to avoid isolated or dark areas. Hike in groups whenever you can—there is safety in numbers. 
  • Pay attention to the trail and where you step. 
  • Do not venture off designated trails. 
  • Use GPS or physical maps to help you know where you’re going and how to leave. 

According to Wild Aware Utah, coyotes are members of the dog family Canidae. They can be found throughout the United States and are quite common in Utah.

Officials say they are adapted to a wide range of habitats, including urban areas such as inner cities and suburban neighborhoods.

They go on to say that coyotes are opportunistic predators. They eat small mammals, insects, reptiles, birds, carrion, grasses, and fruit. And when it comes to human habitation, coyotes tend to seek trash and pet chow as food.

“Coyotes are not usually dangerous to people. A potential exception is if they become habituated to people and lose their natural fear,” Wild Aware Utah adds.

But do you know what to do in case of an encounter? Well, in case you didn’t, here are some tips on preventing an encounter with a coyote:

  • Do not feed coyotes.
  • Remove attractants from your property, including pet food, water sources, bird feeders, and fallen fruit.
  • Secure trash in a locked receptacle. Keep it inside or put it out only on the morning of pick up.
  • Trim vegetation around your yard to reduce hiding places.
  • Do not leave small children outside unattended.
  • As a deterrent, install outdoor and motion-sensitive lighting around your property. Lights also make approaching coyotes visible.
  • If a coyote is on your property make it feel unwelcome: yell, throw rocks, bang pots, and pans, spray it with a hose or turn on sprinklers.

“Pets may be perceived as food for coyotes and large dogs may be seen as a threat or competition,” Wild Aware Utah informs. “Coyotes have taken pets in backyards, open areas, and right off a leash.”

And if a coyote ever encounters one of your pets, here are some tips for that:

  • Supervise pets when they are outside, especially at dawn and dusk.
  • Never leave pets outside after dark.
  • Keep dogs leashed, especially when on trails and in open areas.
  • Never let your dog chase or “play” with coyotes.
  • Cats should be kept indoors.
  • To deter coyotes, fence your yard with a six-foot-high fence. Use electric fencing to help keep coyotes away from pets and livestock.
  • Provide secure shelter for hobby farm pets such as poultry, rabbits, and goats.
  • Secure outdoor pets in a kennel, barn or shed at night. If that is impossible, a small, well-lit pen close to a structure is the next best option.
  • Actively discourage coyotes from your property. Install strobe lights and sirens to scare away coyotes. Use guard animals such as dogs, donkeys, or llamas to protect hobby farm pets and livestock.

And remember, if you ever encounter a coyote, make sure to make noise while hiking to alert wildlife of your presence, never approach them directly, pick up any small pets, make loud noises, stomp your feet, or throw rocks or sticks if necessary to frighten the coyote away.

Officials also urge you to not run or turn your back on a coyote that has approached you.

“Face the coyote, shout at it, be as big and loud as possible, wave your arms, and back away slowly,” they add. “If you have an encounter with aggressive wildlife, please alert the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources office near you. If the encounter or sighting occurs after hours or on the weekend, please call your local police department or county sheriff’s office, who can contact a conservation officer to handle the situation.”

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