Conservation Minnesota

Coyotes as Part of Our Urban World

As we are on the tip of starting summer, we continually hear more reports about coyotes being sighted in the metropolitan area.  Not only sighted, but sometimes attacking small dogs in back yards where often dog food bowls are left on decks and back porches.

My community, adjacent to Minneapolis, has had several reports in the last couple of years, with fearful residents worrying about their pets.  And I’ve noticed adjoining communities this year also reporting coyote worries.

Personally, I find coyotes both interesting and exciting to be in our midst.  The sound of coyotes howling at night brings a wild nature into our urban surroundings.  I might think differently if I still had a dog.  It is a shame that sometimes small dogs do suffer occasional attacks and even face death.

Coyotes are notoriously wary of humans and big dogs. They average about 30 pounds at adult size and no reports of them ever attacking a human being have occurred in the state.

They do serve a useful purpose in devouring rodents, rabbits and goose eggs. Minnesota used to have a statewide bounty system on coyotes, like most western states.  This was repealed in the late 1960’s, but Chippewa County recently enacted a $10 bounty per coyote program.  I have seen coyote twice in nearby western suburbs, and it thrilled me both times.

Reading various metro-area reports and DNR articles about coyote predation, it appears that the most effective system to keep them away from pets and people’s back yards is to not put dog food outside in the open to attract them.  We can coexist with coyotes and feel the wildness of the natural world in the urban environment.

About John Helland

John Helland
John Helland is a history graduate of the University of Minnesota. He served as the nonpartisan legislative research analyst for the Minnesota House of Representatives after graduation. He worked extensively on environment and natural resources legislation and issues, and was the primary nonpartisan research staffer for the House Environment and Natural Resources Policy and Finance committees from 1971 to 2008.
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