Coyotes pose increasing threat to pets |

Coyotes pose increasing threat to pets

Renee Shadforth

Each week new signs line the mailboxes in Tahoe Donner: Lost. Black cat with golden eyes. Answers to “Max.”

And each week, people at Town of Truckee Animal Control and the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe get calls about missing pets. Although they have no way of knowing where the pets end up most of the time, they can only assume many of the cats and dogs were taken by coyotes.

“It’s all over Truckee – not just Tahoe Donner,” said Carol Merjil, the cat adoption coordinator for the Humane Society. “It’s not just at night either. You see lost cat signs all over the place. But you can’t blame the coyotes, it’s their livelihood.”

Problems with coyotes begin when people feed them either deliberately or inadvertently, according to the California Department of Fish and Game. When humans feed the dog-like animal, it loses its natural fear of people and it becomes bold and, sometimes, aggressive. This is when coyotes start attacking pets, Fish and Game officials say.

As Tahoe becomes more populated, coyotes have become more bold. People hiking in the Martis Valley and at Prosser Reservoir have reported coyotes coming right up to them and their pets. The Humane Society suggests carrying a short leash to keep pets under control.

Coyotes have also become more bold in neighborhoods, said Karen Odmark, dog adoption coordinator for the Humane Society

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“I’ve been hearing a lot of people say coyotes are coming right up to their homes,” Odmark said. “There’s one lady in Tahoe Donner who lost two [Australian] shepherds in two months.”

Many people in Tahoe allow their pets to have free reign outside of the home while they’re at work, or they leave their dogs tied out, Odmark said.

“Then they’re defenseless,” she added.

Allowing dogs to wander the streets leaves them open to many dangers, including other wildlife, traffic and confrontations with other pets.

“When we adopt out pets, we tell people to keep their pets inside,” Merjil said. “And if they must let their pets outside, we tell them to supervise.”

How to protect your pets

— Keep pets indoors while you’re gone during the day and at night. Give them toys and things to chew to keep them busy.

— Companies have designed pet fence-in systems, so pets can remain outside and protected.

— If coyotes are frequenting your neighborhood, let them know they’re not welcome. Make loud noises, throw rocks or spray them with a garden hose.

— If a coyote problem persists, contact Town of Truckee Animal Control or the California Department of Fish and Game.

— For more information, check out

Information comes from “Living with Coyotes,” by the California Department of Fish and Game and the Humane Society.