IDAHO — After recent coyote sightings and encounters in the Boise Foothills, Idaho Fish and Game is asking recreationists and homeowners in the area to take extra safety precautions, especially while we're in the middle of coyote breeding season.
“Part of the reason why the Boise area is so beautiful is it is nestled right on the edge of the untamed, and that is particularly true in the Foothills community," Brian Pearson, IDFG Southwest Region, Communications Manager, said. "When you are right on that urban wildlife interface it is great coyote habitat, and there are coyotes out there."
“Encounters with coyotes and dogs can happen at any time of the year, and coyotes can always pose a risk to dogs in situations where they view the dogs as prey or competition," he added.
However, that risk is elevated during mating season in February and March.
“Dominant males protect their territory, and the younger, non-dominant males are out looking for mates, so during this time of the year coyotes are more likely to view domestic dogs as competition with increased territoriality," Pearson said.
With the Boise Foothills, like Hulls Gulch and Military Reserve, being prime coyote habitat, IDFG recommends that homeowners in the area coyote-proof their yards.
“Remove attractants. The things we identify as attractants are pet foods, trash, even dog feces, and bird feeders can attract all kinds of wildlife," Pearson said.
Although unlikely, recreationists using the Foothills Trail System should also be prepared for coyote encounters.
“When you’re in these areas where you know there is coyote activity, even if it is an off-leash area, it might be a good idea to walk your dog on a leash during that time," Pearson said. "Consider bringing a noisemaker, a whistle, a bell, or a horn, something along those lines that can be useful in scaring off a coyote.”
It's also important to remember that these are unpredictable wild animals.
“Respect the wildlife while you're out there, not just coyotes. Keep them wild, give wildlife their space, and safely enjoy the wonderful resource that we have in the Treasure Valley," Pearson added.
Here is IDFG's full list of what homeowners can do to keep their pets safe:
- Remove or secure attractants, such as pet food, trash or dog feces.
- If you have a potential living food source for coyotes, such as chickens, secure their coops with wire mesh fences at least five feet high.
- Don’t leave your dog outside unsupervised.
- If possible, ensure your property boundaries are secure by keeping fences in good repair and letting your dogs out for bathroom breaks only in fenced areas, particularly at night. The American Kennel Club recommends solid fences of at least 6-feet tall, and buried in the ground at least 18 inches, and says that “coyote rollers” can provide additional deterrence.
- If your property is not fenced, turn on outside lights and make noise before letting your dog outside, and consider taking your dog out on a lead for nighttime bathroom breaks.
- Clear away brushy areas around your property that coyotes may see as safe denning or hiding spots.
Here is IDFG's full list of what recreationists can do to keep their pets safe:
- Keep dogs on lead when using foothill trail systems.
- Consider bringing a loud noisemaker with you – a whistle, bell or horn – which can be helpful in scaring off a coyote.
- Another option is carrying bear spray, and knowing how to use it. It’s not just for bears and can also be used as a highly effective tool against other mammals if an unsafe wildlife encounter occurs.
- When hiking, make noise to announce your presence. Coyotes are more leery around humans.
- Be present, and aware of your surroundings and your dog.
- If you know that an area has recently experienced dog-coyote encounters, consider using a different section of the Boise foothills that is open to recreation.
Coyotes in the foothills and surrounding areas also attract hunters and trappers, something dog owners should be aware of especially in the off-leash areas.
IDFG said that it's illegal for trappers to place any ground set on, across, or within 10 feet from the edge of the trails.
“So really recreationists on the developed trails shouldn't be encountering any traps. With that said though dog owners should be aware that there may be traps present on the landscape,” Pearson said.
To watch IDFG's video on how to recognize and avoid wildlife traps while walking your dog, click here.
To watch IDFG's video on how to release your dog from a trap, click here.