Mild winter leaves coyotes searching for easy prey

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 7:11 PM EST
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A milder winter has been good for deer and moose, but not for coyotes. Kathy McCarty has more on how a lack of deep snow has driven the predators to look for prey elsewhere.

Coyotes have been more prevalent near homes and farms this winter, according to Shawn Haskell, Wildlife Biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. A milder winter has allowed deer and moose to escape the predators.

“If we are seeing more bold coyote activity around farms and people’s houses, that could have had something to do with it. Usually the deer, by December, would be locked into their town wintering locations. This year, that didn’t happen. We really didn’t have much snow by December,” says Shawn Haskell, Wildlife Biologist with the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

He says deer tire more easily when the snow’s deeper or crusted over, giving coyotes an advantage.

“Bold behavior by coyotes is gonna be driven by hunger, and if they’ve found a food source. We had a situation over here in Nashville where the coyotes were being bold. They were probably being fed,” says Haskell.

Haskell says if you don’t want wildlife around, don’t feed them or offer any food resource. Loud noises can be used to scare them away.

“Bottle rockets or roman candles will deter. Loud noises. You mentioned somebody would set their car alarm off. If you’ve got coyote tracks around your barn where you’ve got some goats or chickens or other livestock, and they’re getting inquisitive, try a motion light,” he says.

Haskell recommends creating a fenced-in area for pets who go outside.

“If you walk your small dog in the wood, understand that that dog is on the menu all the time for a coyote, and just keep an eye on your dog. Keep ‘em close. Be prepared to defend him if you have to. It’s very rare that we have coyotes attack people or dogs, but it can happen,” says Haskell.

If you are having a problem with coyotes, contact the Maine Warden Service. Kathy McCarty, News Source 8

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