Shooting or trapping them probably won’t work.
If you’ve got a coyote problem, it may be best to simply make them feel unwelcome. Yell. Whistle. Throw stuff or spray them with the garden hose.
Keep your pets inside so there aren’t any temptations to attract hungry coyotes.
That’s the message Jefferson Parish officials passed on in a letter to unnerved residents of the upscale Stonebridge subdivision outside Gretna recently.
“We’ve been trying to find a solution,” said Suzanne Farrar, president of the Stonebridge Property Owners Association. “And, right now, the solution is to get people educated about coyotes, what they do, and — if you come across them — what you should do.”
Coyotes have been spotted in and around Stonebridge for a couple of years now. Some residents think they’ve set up a sort of colony in the woods lining a nearby canal.
Their howling at night has upset some of the neighbors, and they’ve been implicated in the disappearance of more than one family pet.
On one occasion, Farrar said, a Stonebridge resident reported being cornered on the porch by a coyote that stalked back and forth “like it was waiting for food.”
Recently, she saw three of the animals strutting along outside her house on the green of the Stonebridge golf course’s 13th hole.
“It looked like they were talking to each other,” Farrar said.
Disturbed residents naturally called parish officials for assistance.
“People are worried about their pets,” said Jefferson Parish Councilman Ricky Templet, whose district includes Stonebridge. “They’re worried about their children — and rightfully so.”
According to the experts, however, there is no easy solution to a coyote problem.
Shoot them, and the remaining coyotes start breeding unusually large litters to compensate. Lay traps for them, and you might snag one of the pets you were trying to safeguard.
The best policy may simply be to cause them as much grief as possible.
The official parish letter, authored by Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter Director Robin Beaulieu, explains that coyotes are naturally afraid of humans, and it offers some helpful hints for exploiting that fact when coyotes approach: Scream and wave your arms, blow air horns, ring bells, shake cans full of marbles or pennies, or bang pots and pans together.
A more aggressive approach might involve hurling sticks, rocks or tennis balls, or training a hose, pepper spray or bear repellent at an unwanted visitor.
Equally useful is eliminating potential food sources, the letter continues. That means keeping bird feeders and similar objects in places coyotes can’t reach — and not allowing defenseless pets to roam around unaccompanied, which is a violation of a parish ordinance anyway.
“If residents follow the simple steps and recommendations outlined in this document, they can significantly reduce the risk that they or their pets will have a negative encounter with a coyote,” the letter reads.
Stonebridge residents can only hope the parish is right.
“We don’t want to kill them,” Farrar said. “But we have to find a solution.”