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Idaho Fish and Game issues annual reminder on coyotes and off-leash dogs in the Boise Foothills

Two coyotes stand in a field.
Jethro Taylor
/
Flickr

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game puts out this warning every year for homeowners and recreationists: be vigilant during coyote denning season and take extra precautions with your pets.

The time between late February and and June is when coyotes are denning and breeding, and the risk goes up for conflicts between coyotes and domestic dogs. Popular with hikers, the Lower Hulls Gulch trail area in the Boise Foothills is also favored by coyotes looking for a spot to burrow.

“This area is preferred denning habitat as we have reports of coyotes denning in this area every year in the past three years,” said Regional Wildlife Manager Ryan Walrath in a news release.

This time of year is coyote denning season, meaning coyotes can become more territorial toward other canines, including domestic dogs, according to IDFG. Coyote conflicts with domestic dogs can happen at any time, but are more likely between late February and June during their breeding and denning seasons.

Similar conflicts have happened over the past several years. IDFG encourages recreationists to keep dogs on leash on all Boise Foothill trails, even those where dogs are usually allowed to be off-leash between March and June.

“Taking these steps can help minimize the risk, because being in close proximity to a leashed dog is a much greater deterrent to a coyote. But being on leash doesn’t absolutely guarantee a territorial coyote won’t cause problems with a dog,” Walrath said. “When an area is known to have dog-aggressive coyotes, the safest short-term option is for recreationists to find another area to hike with their dogs.”

Coyote attacks on domestic dogs are not a daily occurrence in the Boise area, but coyotes have killed domestic dogs before, even within city limits. Idaho Fish and Game provided the following steps for recreationists and homeowners to keep their pets safe:

Recreationists

  • Keep dogs on leash when using trails. 
  • If you know that an area has recently experienced coyote conflicts, consider using a different area that is open to recreation. 
  • 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 is a highly effective tool against other mammals. 
  • When hiking, make noise to announce your presence. Coyotes are more leery around humans. 
  • Be aware of your surroundings and keep track of your dog's behavior as they may notice coyote presence before you.  

Homeowners

  • Remove or secure coyote attractants — such as pet food, trash or dog feces — as well as attractants for native species that coyotes are known to prey on. Coyotes eat small animals such as rodents, squirrels, gophers, opossums, raccoons, skunks and foxes.  
  • Enclose backyard poultry, livestock or other small animals that live outside with secure fencing and a roof. 
  • Don’t leave your dog outside unsupervised, particularly in areas where coyote conflicts have been known to occur. 
  • 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 six feet high, 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 leash for nighttime bathroom breaks. 
  • Clear away brushy areas around your property that coyotes may see as safe denning or hiding spots. 
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