Tips for living with coyotes

Protect your pets. Coyotes will attack and kill cats and dogs. Do not allow your pets to roam, especially at night. Make sure your yard is appropriately fenced -- with at least a 6-foot-high barrier -- or keep your dog in a completely enclosed kennel.

Do not allow dogs to run with coyotes. Although it appears they are playing, coyotes can turn on dogs to defend their territory.

Don't leave pet food outside.

Protect livestock, especially chickens, young calves and sheep.

Keep garbage in a storage facility or in a tightly sealed container. Clean garbage cans regularly to reduce residual odors by using hot water and chlorine bleach.

Source: Colorado Division of Wildlife

What to do if you meet a coyote

Coyotes provide an enjoyable wildlife viewing experience. Keep your distance and do not approach the animals.

Keep your pets on a leash when walking them.

If a coyote approaches you or your pet, you can throw rocks or sticks to frighten it away.

Use a loud, authoritative voice to frighten the animal.


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Source: Colorado Division of Wildlife

Officials in Superior have stepped up efforts to discourage coyotes from making their homes in town, following a recent sighting of a pack and the discovery last week of an eviscerated dog in a residential neighborhood.

Employees with the Superior Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department spent part of Wednesday throwing ammonia-soaked tennis balls into suspected coyote dens along Rock Creek. Coyotes are in the middle of breeding season and looking for places to give birth to pups.

Manny Soto tosses an ammonia ball in an area that appears to be a coyote den Wednesday in Superior’s Community Park.
Manny Soto tosses an ammonia ball in an area that appears to be a coyote den Wednesday in Superior's Community Park. ( CLIFF GRASSMICK )

Wearing long green gloves to pluck tennis balls out of a bucket of the foul-smelling liquid, the town staffers focused on a greenbelt zone bounded by Indiana Street and Rock Creek Parkway, just north of Coalton Road.

"We upped our operational intensity in trying to identify the dens," said department director Martin Toth. "Then we try to discourage them in humane ways. Generally, what we've seen in the past (with the tennis balls) is a decrease in activity."

The theory, Toth said, is that the pungent odor of the tennis balls resembles the scent of another animal marking its territory and convinces coyotes to find a new place to build a den.

Jamie Dixon, who has lived on East Heartstrong Street for 13 years, wonders if smelly tennis balls will be enough to drive the coyotes away. She said she's never seen so many coyotes roaming her Rock Creek neighborhood as has been apparent in the last few months.

"They are actually stalking the houses where there are dogs," she said.

Dixon said the situation came to a head last week, when her neighbor saw a pack of half a dozen or so of the animals killing a dog late at night. Despite yelling and banging pots, the neighbor said the coyotes didn't seem fazed.

The next day, Dixon said, a couple of children walking to school along the bike path near Superior Elementary School found an eviscerated dog right outside the fence of a home.

A neighbor also told her she witnessed a coyote jumping out of someone's backyard in the late evening.

Dixon said the rabbit population in Superior is way down, probably due to the prevalence of coyotes, and she wonders if raptors, like owls and hawks, might leave town to find new sources of food.

"We're beginning to see an imbalance in the wildlife at this point," Dixon said, noting that coyotes have no natural predators in the area.

Dale Roy, who has lived on Eldorado Drive for the last 15 years, said he sees coyotes in the open space near his house "all the time." But he said reports that a pack has recently been active concern him.

"If there is just one here or there, I don't think anyone is concerned about it," he said.

He's not sure the town is taking tough enough measures against the animals.

"It's hard to get rid of coyotes," Roy said.

At a Superior Board of Trustees meeting earlier this week, there didn't seem to be much appetite for employing lethal methods to control coyote numbers.

Trustee Lisa Skumatz stated that she is against killing the animals. On Wednesday, she said living with coyotes comes with living so close to pristine open space.

"We've worked at having open space, and in particular, we've worked on connecting open spaces so that animals can migrate through," she said. "When the citizens voted to tax themselves to buy open space, that tells me they want to have wild spaces around them."

But she said the town takes notice when public safety is threatened, and it is taking the necessary measures to dissuade the animals from setting up shop in neighborhoods. If coyotes become aggressive toward people, then the town will likely call on the Colorado Division of Wildlife for help.

Jennifer Churchill, a spokeswoman for the division, said people need to be aware of coyotes and protect their pets by keeping them on a leash outside and making sure their fences are high enough to keep the animals out of their backyards.

"Coyotes see dogs as a possible threat, a possible mate or a possible food source," Churchill said. "We want to caution people against making coyotes too comfortable around us."

Contact Camera Staff Writer John Aguilar at 303-473-1389 or aguilarj@dailycamera.com.