Coyote Mating Season: Owners Should Be Vigilant for Pet Predators

coyoteThe death of a Maltese named Jake in the Miller Bay Estates subdivision in Kingston, Washington, caused quite the mystery for a few days this month.

According to the local paper, the North Kitsap Herald, it was after dark, around 6 p.m. on January 3rd when Jake’s owners returned from work and found his lifeless, decapitated body under their deck. Jake had access to the outdoors through a doggy door when he was home alone.

The dog’s owners, Kelly Moran and his wife, initially thought it was a malicious person who was to blame. What they couldn’t have imagined is that a coyote was the actual culprit.

Upon examining Jake’s body, the veterinarian found that the underside of Jake’s neck had “shredding and puncture wounds.”

Dr. Kristin Mansfield, a veterinarian with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife, was quoted as saying that it is coyote mating season through March. She explained that coyotes will sometimes kill dogs in order to eliminate competition.

She says she has found similar behavior in coyotes in California that would kill foxes by removing their heads and burying them elsewhere.

Living in the country, we’re wary of wildlife anytime of the year and we don’t allow our small dogs to wander outside alone. Moran’s property, as reported in the press, is in a cul-de-sac and backs up to woods.

What many suburbanites do not realize is that while wildlife are crowded out of their habitat, they have increasingly been returning to their once natural areas, which are now suburbs. This becomes dangerous for people, but especially for small dogs and cats.

Statistics aren’t available to estimate how many domestic pets are killed by wild predators every year, but the increased frequency of reports in the news concerning coyote attacks on pets comes from every corner of the country, from the east to west coasts and every place in between.

If you live in a very rural area with larger predatory wildlife, such as bears and mountain lions, it is advisable to also be vigilant with larger dogs as well. A year and a half ago, we lost Emma, our Shepherd/Rottie mix, to what we believe was a mountain lion attack.

She was outside with our two other large dogs one night, as it had been so hot, they didn’t want to be out during the day. I awoke about 3 a.m. to her barking, which wasn’t unusual. At 4 a.m., I heard a horrible screeching sound we’ve been told is a mountain lion.

Emma was lost to us forever. We never even found her collar, despite months of searching in our vast wooded area.

Do you live in a rural area, and share concerns about potential pet predators? Share your thoughts in a comment.

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