Everyone enjoys observing wildlife in its natural environment. However, many well-meaning residents of mountain and rural areas have promoted an unnatural boldness in coyotes by intentionally or unintentionally feeding them. The highly adaptable coyote is flourishing in populated areas, mostly because of the interesting menu available in the form of handouts, dog and cat food, or easy-to-open garbage cans. The animal Mark Twain called "the most friendless of God's creatures" is also the most adaptable. Coyotes can survive on whatever food is available, from rodents to rubbish, from insects to fruit to carrion. They can also be a threat to family pets.Essentially unimpeded by control measures, abundant food has encouraged coyotes to become accustomed to the sight and sounds of humans. Consequently, coyote populations and range have expanded enormously in recent years. There are more coyotes now than ever before in history! Where other natural predators have retreated, rats, mice, and other small animals have increased. In such a situation, the coyote is beneficial, if residents wouldn't provide them with even more convenient meals. HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE SEEN A COYOTE? This native member of the dog family closely resembles a medium-size German shepherd dog except it has an elongated snout and bushy, black-tipped tail, which is carried down as it runs. There are many coyotes in Summit County and consequently sightings are common. The coyote's larger relative, the wolf, does not occur anywhere in Summit County. At night, the coyote's high-pitched, yodel-like yapping can frequently be heard - especially following the sound of emergency vehicle sirens. Coyotes frequently make a sound far different from the Hollywood movie stereotype. Many people who are unfamiliar with their almost hyena-like yapping incorrectly think they are hearing animals being killed by coyotes at night. Please click here for a more detailed description of the mountain coyote. SOME DO'S AND DON'TS DO feed pets indoors or promptly remove dishes when pets complete their meal outside. Store bags of pet food indoors. DO clear brush and dense weeds from around property. This deprives rodents of shelter and reduces protective cover for coyotes. DO use trash barrels equipped with tight clamping devices on the lids, which will prevent spills should they be tipped over by large animals. DO try to educate your friends and neighbors about the problems associated with feeding coyotes. If you belong to a homeowner's association or neighborhood watch, bring up the subject during one of the meetings. DON'T feed or provide water for coyotes or other wild life. This practice abnormally attracts coyotes and promotes increased numbers of rodents, birds, snakes, and other creatures that can provide major portions of the coyote's natural diet. It is against the law for residents of Breckenridge to feed coyotes and other wild animals.DON'T put trash cans out the night before scheduled pick-up. Breckenridge Town Code states that garbage must be put out no earlier than six am on the day of trash pick-up. This will give wild animals less time to scavenge, and they won't have the cover of darkness. Coyotes are mainly active at night or twilight. Always remember: Be kind to coyotes, don't feed them! TO PROTECT PETS Keep small pets (cats, rabbits, small dogs) indoors. Don't allow them to run free at any time. They are easy, favored prey. Some coyotes hunt cats in residential areas. Large dogs should be brought inside after dark and never allowed to run loose. Don't leave domestic pet food outside. Wildlife will soon depend upon it. Please click here for more information from the Department of Wildlife regarding living with coyotes in Breckenridge.
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