Keeping the wildlife wild

I have a friendly gray fox who visits my backyard. He likes to jump up in my birdbath for a drink and he will also eat sunflower seeds that fall from my seed feeder.

I am a little surprised that I have never seen a coyote around doing the same things. After all, coyotes are found in all 48 continental states and are active in both Hays and Travis counties. They feed on mice, rats and rabbits but will also eat pet food left outdoors, plus garbage and carrion.

Unfortunately, they will sometimes make a snack of pet dogs and cats. They will also chow down on avian creatures – witness Wiley Coyote’s endless pursuit of the Roadrunner.

I am told the best way to keep wildlife wild is to withhold any food. Don’t feed pets outside and clean up any birdseed that falls on the ground if coyotes are in your vicinity. Also, keep tight covers on garbage cans and compost bins.

Coyotes mate and birth pups from January to June, and are more territorial during that period. In suburban areas, they have a territory of about one square mile.

These intelligent canines have a life span of 10 to 12 years and they weigh from 20 to 50 pounds. Their length is about 32 to 37 inches, from head to rump. In Texas, coyotes are under a statewide rabies quarantine that prohibits them from being transported or sold. I have no desire to do either.

Coyotes are not a major threat to humans. To frighten them, it is recommended you make eye contact, yell and wave your arms around. Air horns and whistles are also helpful.

However, in all honesty, I think I would enjoy seeing an occasional coyote. I don’t have any pets and I consider coyotes worthy of my admiration as a part of our natural wildlife.

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