NEWS FROM THE DELAWARE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL
June 2, 2010
Vol. 40, No. 184
For more information, contact Joe Rogerson, Deer and Furbearer Biologist, Division of Fish and Wildlife, 302-735-3600, or Joanna Wilson, Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.
Coyotes documented as rare, but present in Delaware
Residents encouraged to avoid leaving wildlife-attracting food, garbage outside
Just 10 years ago, the First State had very few – if any – resident coyotes. Even now, coyotes remain rare, so rare that even Delawareans who spend a lot of time outdoors probably will not encounter one. However, the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife has documented that these animals can now be found in each of Delaware’s three counties.
Because of this, residents are no longer being asked to report sightings to the Division. "In the past, we have asked people to contact us if the saw an animal they believed to be a coyote. These sightings helped us document their distribution but now that we know they are here, we do not need sighting reports from the public," said Joe Rogerson, Deer and Furbearer Biologist.
Coyotes resemble medium-sized dogs, with erect pointed ears, a long, slender muzzle and a bushy tail held low to the ground. Typically, they are brownish or reddish gray with a lighter-colored belly and rusty ears and legs, weighing between 20 and 50 pounds. Highly adaptable to change and able to thrive in suburban as well as rural areas, these opportunistic predator-scavengers will eat practically anything, from garbage to small mammals, berries and even deer on some occasions.
As with all wild animals, Rogerson urges residents to use caution if they do spot a coyote in their area. "Remember, all wild animals are unpredictable and caution is the watchword when they are around. If you want a closer look, use binoculars and observe from a distance. Never put food out to lure them closer. Nearly all bites or attacks occur when people attempt to feed wild animals or to treat them like domestic animals," Rogerson said. "The chances of being attacked by a domestic dog are approximately one million times greater than being attacked by a coyote. In a given year, there are usually fewer than five coyote attacks on humans across the entire United States, and no one has ever reported a coyote attack on a person in Delaware."
To make your property less appealing to coyotes, take the following steps:
- Do not leave food outside, and eliminate standing sources of water.
- Elevate bird feeders so that coyotes can’t reach them. Coyotes are attracted by bread, table scraps, and even seed. They may also be attracted by the birds and rodents that come to feeders.
- Put all food waste in secure garbage containers.
- Keep pets safely confined and provide secure nighttime housing for them.
- Discourage coyotes from "cohabitating" with humans. If you see them around your home, chase them away by shouting, making loud noises or throwing rocks.
For information or questions concerning coyotes in Delaware, please contact Joe Rogerson, Wildlife Section, at 302-735-3600, or visit http://www.fw.delaware.gov/Hunting/Pages/Coyotes.aspx .