The Brooklyn Helpline has recently received calls regarding coyote sighting in our neighborhood. Two were last reported on July 26th on SE 14th and Rhone walking down the street.
While it may be a bit disconcerting having wild animals roaming our streets, the following information is made available from the Humane Society.
Both coyotes and foxes are members of the canid (dog) family. Coyotes look similar to medium sized dogs, and are often confused with Huskies. Foxes are slightly smaller, and have long bodies and relatively short legs. Coyotes and foxes are both opportunistic: they can exploit a wide range of habitats, feast on a variety of natural and human-supplied foods, and, if necessary, adapt their activity periods to times when humans are not active. Despite being one of the most successful urban mammals, many people are surprised to see a coyote or fox in their backyard – and that surprise often leads to panic. The good news is that there really is not much to worry about.
Q: I just saw a coyote/fox during the day – doesn’t that mean he is rabid?
A: It is actually not unusual to see a coyote or fox out during the day. Coyotes and foxes will venture out during daylight hours in search of food. Both animals are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will hunt for food as the opportunity presents itself –regardless of whether it is day or night. Additionally, both coyotes and foxes eat squirrels, and squirrels are only active during the day. So if you see a fox or coyote outside during the day, he is most likely in pursuit of a squirrel, small rodent, or other daytime food source.
Sometimes people are frightened because a coyote or fox exhibits a “brazenness” that is alarming. This does not necessarily mean that the animal is sick. Coyotes and foxes may habituate to humans because of food sources being constantly available (i.e. cat food left on porches) or repeated contact with no negative consequences.
You can teach a bold coyote or fox to be wary of you and other people by using negative conditioning. Make loud, scary noises by banging metal pot lids together when the animal is nearby, or spray the animal’s hindquarters with a hose. Call your local animal control officer (Multnomah county 503/988-7387) or police non-emergency (503/823-3333) if an adult coyote or fox seen in the daytime is acting at all sick or showing abnormal behaviors such as partial paralysis, circling, staggering as if drunk or disoriented, self mutilating, or exhibiting either unprovoked aggression or unnatural tameness. While waiting for animal control personnel, keep people and companion animals away from the animal.