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Living with urban/suburban wildlife

Living with coyotes in Bloomington

Map of reported coyote incidents

Click here to view a map showing the locations of coyote incidents reported in Bloomington. The map shows the locations of coyote sightings, coyotes killed by cars, dogs attacked, and dogs killed.

How to haze a coyote

Residents with small- to medium-sized dogs and cats should be on alert for coyotes, especially in the southwest quadrant of the city.

In this video, Bloomington Animal Control Coordinator John Carlson demonstrates how to haze a coyote and change the animal’s behavior.

One-hour video seminar: Living with Coyotes In Bloomington


In response to a rise in coyote populations in the Metro area, Animal Control staff organized a community coyote seminar on May 15, 2012. The seminar was led by national coyote expert Lynsey White Dasher, an Urban Wildlife Specialist with the Humane Society of the United States. Dasher described coyote ecology, habits and hazing, to help us understand how to live with and among coyotes in Bloomington, and how to avoid conflicts with them.

Identification of coyotes

Overall appearance

With its pointed ears, slender muzzle and drooping bushy tail, the coyote often resembles a German shepherd or collie.

Coloration

Coyotes are usually a grayish brown with reddish tinges behind the ears and around the face, but coloration can vary from a silver-gray to black. The tail usually has a black tip.

Eyes

Eyes are a striking yellow, with large dark pupils, rather than brown like many dogs.

Weight

Most adults weigh between 25-35 pounds. A few big ones weigh in the 42-43 pound range.

1Coyote identification material and photos © The Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, used with permission.

Prevention and control of coyote problems

Food-associated coyote attractants

  • Feeding of wildlife, including bird feeding: Feeding of wildlife, such as raccoons, deer, raccoons and squirrels, often attracts coyotes, more for the presence of prey than for the animal feed itself, although they may sometimes eat the feed as well. Even feeding birds, if seed is spilled on the ground or is accessible to squirrels, can serve to attract coyotes. Residents should take care to reduce the risk of attracting any wildlife other than birds by taking steps to keep squirrels out of feeders, and removing spilled food promptly.
  • Pet food: Pets should be fed indoors whenever possible. If a pet is kept outdoors, it should be fed once a day and the uneaten food removed immediately.
  • Garbage: Garbage should not be left outside in plastic bags or otherwise unsecured. For garbage pickup days, garbage should be put out that morning if possible.

Habitat availability

Places that can shelter small mammals are likely to attract those animals, which in turn may attract coyotes. Examples include: woodpiles, crawlspaces under decks and sheds, junk piles, unsecured garages or attics, heavy brush and trees, uncapped fireplace chimneys, etc. Removing or sealing up these types of harborage not only decreases the likelihood of attracting coyotes. It can also prevent issues with other wild animals.

Discouraging coyotes from becoming habituated to humans

Owners of small dogs or cats should monitor their pets carefully when they are outside and not allow them to run at large. (Free-running pets are in violation of City ordinances and the practice puts small pets at risk.) Coyotes normally will not bother larger dogs, such as labs, Springer spaniels, etc. Of course, small children should always be supervised when they are outside.

If a coyote has become “too comfortable” around humans, experts recommend making them uncomfortable: chase them off with loud noises, throwing things at them, etc. There are other devices that may frighten or irritate coyotes, such as motion-activated sprinklers.

Coyote control

Coyote control programs are often established in response to public pressure based on perceived -- rather than actual -- threats, and are generally difficult, expensive and of little value. A number of methods have been tried to control coyotes. Most of these methods also present a threat to non-target species, including domestic pets and sometimes protected, threatened or endangered wildlife. Several of these methods also present a hazard to humans, especially children, as well.

Living with urban wildlife

Each year the Bloomington Police Department receives several hundred calls for assistance from residents who have problems with wild animals. While wild animals contribute to our enjoyment of nature, they can also damage property and threaten human health and safety.

Police response guidelines

Animal control officers respond to the following situations. If animal control officers are not available, a police patrol unit may be dispatched.

  • Immediate hazard:Wildlife may present an immediate hazard to public health or safety. For example, a wild animal in your living quarters or interfering with access to your residence requires immediate assistance. This does not apply to mice, insects or animals in a chimney, garage or attic.
  • Sick or injured wildlife:The degree of hazard to public safety, the apparent degree of injury and the animal's species will determine Police response.
  • Threat to public safety:A wild animal showing aggressive behavior or that may be a potential rabies suspect, require attention. The Animal Control Officer will determine whether or not the animal is a rabies suspect.

Consideration is given at all times to both the public and wildlife. Bloomington's goal is to guard resources, both natural and wildlife, when conflicts between humans and wildlife occur. Control strategies include a variety of techniques.

Feeding wildlife is prohibited

  • City Code Section 12.122prohibits the feeding of wild animals such as, but not limited to, raccoons, deer, turkeys, ducks and geese, within any area of the City of Bloomington.
  • Feeding is defined as providing non-birdseed mixtures, grain, fruit, vegetables, hay, mineral salt or other edible material, either on the ground or at a height of less than five (5) feet above the ground.
  • Living food sources such as fruit trees and other live vegetation are not prohibited.

Tips for wildlife control

Squirrels and other rodents

Screen louvers, vents and fan openings. Keep doors and windows in good repair. Replace rotten boards. Cap the chimney. Trim overhanging trees. Remove bird feeders or use squirrel-proof feeders. Chipmunks can be deterred by removing logs.

Opossums and skunks

Raiding garbage cans, living under porches and low decks can be problematic to homeowners. To keep wildlife from denning under buildings, seal off all foundation openings with wire mesh, sheet metal or concrete. Tight-fitting garbage can lids may eliminate foraging.

Raccoons

These common residents live in hollow trees, ground burrows, chimneys, attics and storm sewers. They are attracted to easy food sources like garbage and pet food. To prevent scavenging, use metal trash cans with secured lids that are fastened to a solid object. Cover chimneys with approved chimney caps and trim overhanging branches.City Code Section 12.122 prohibits the feeding of wildlife

Woodchucks

Also known as groundhogs, woodchucks burrow near buildings and live under sheds and woodpiles. They damage gardens and shrubs. Fencing can reduce woodchuck damage if the lower edge is buried at least 10 inches and stands three to four feet high.

Rabbits

Rabbits can be kept out of gardens by using repellents or by placing a two-foot poultry fence around the area. It is important to bury the fence at least six inches. Read all labels before using any repellent.

Deer

The most effective means of managing a deer problem is to use plants deer dislike. There are dozens of readily available plants that deer almost never eat.City Code Section 12.122 prohibits the feeding of wildlife.

Baby animals

A wandering baby animal is not necessarily orphaned. Unless you know for certain that the mother is dead (i.e. found along the roadside), it is often best to leave young animals alone. The animal's best chance for survival is if it is left where it is found.

Bats

Bats prefer to avoid human contact; however, they are known to establish residence in attics. Entry and exit holes can be sealed with 1/4 inch hardware cloth, caulking or wire mesh. If a bat makes its way into the house, you can usually encourage it to leave after dark by turning on lights and opening windows and doors.

Bat bites are often difficult to detect. If you cannot definitely rule out a bat bite, seek medical advice and/or contact the Bloomington Police Department.

Live traps

Minnesota State Statute 97B.655allows property owners or occupants to legally live trap certain nuisance wildlife species causing damage. Some wildlife are protected by State and Federal laws. If you are not sure if it is legal to trap a particular nuisance wildlife species, consult the Department of Natural Resources or Bloomington Animal Control before trapping.

Live traps can be purchased at most hardware or farm supply stores, and can also be rented from most tool rental centers. Caution should be taken to avoid overly aggressive animals. Captured animals may be killed humanely or released at a remote location with the approval of the property owner.

Whom to call

Sick or injured animals

  • 911.
  • Animal Control at 952-563-4942.
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release (WRR) at 612-822-7058.
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota at 651-486-9453.
  • Raptor Center (birds of prey only) at 612-624-4748.

Dead wildlife on public road or public property

  • Bloomington Animal Control at 952-563-4942. Bloomington Animal Control only picks up dead wildlife from public property.

Dead or injured deer

  • Bloomington Police at 952-563-4900.

Birds dead from unknown, non-traumatic causes

Deer or goose nuisance complaints

Resources