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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. — The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office warned residents Sunday about the increased threat of coyote attacks on pets. The warning comes as coyote mating season begins.

But the attacks are not just happening in rural areas; coyotes can be found just about anywhere in metro Denver.

Coyotes are in the middle of their breeding season. They are establishing and protecting their territories, and might perceive any other animal — large or small — as a threat.

Smaller dogs and cats might be perceived as prey at any time of year. Coyotes can be active any time of day so steps should be taken to protect pets at all times. The following safety information is from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Protecting yourself and your family

  • Although rare, coyotes have been known to injure people. Most of these incidents involved people feeding them. Teach your family about urban wildlife and never feed wildlife.
  • Coyotes are usually wary of humans and will avoid people whenever possible. If a coyote does approach you, haze it by making loud noises, yelling, throwing objects or make yourself look big.
  • If a coyote is in your yard, haze it out of there
  • The City of Aurora developed an eight-minute video on How to Haze a Coyote
  • Never feed or attempt to “tame” a coyote
  • Teach children to be SMART if they have an encounter with a coyote or other predator:
    • Stop, do not run or turn your back to it.
    • Make yourself look bigger by lifting your arms or pulling your jacket over your head.
    • Announce your presence loudly and firmly such as “LEAVE ME ALONE!”
    • Retreat by backing away slowly.
    • Tell an adult of your encounter.

Protecting pets

  • Keep pets in fenced areas or kennels to minimize encounters; many coyotes can scale a six-foot fence
  • Attend your pets when they are in the yard, especially at night
  • Keep cats indoors
  • Pet kennels and runs should have a fully-enclosed roof
  • Keep pets on leash when walking them in open space areas
  • Do not allow pets to run loose in areas where there is coyote activity
  • Keep pets vaccinated

Discouraging coyotes near homes

  • Frighten coyotes with loud noises
  • Remove all food attractants from yards such as pet food, table scraps on compost piles, fallen fruit and birdfeed
  • Trim or remove vegetation and brush that provides cover for prey (such as mice and rabbits) and hiding cover for coyotes; trim lower limbs of shrubs and conifer trees
  • Keep all trash out of reach of coyotes; place your trash out only on the morning of pickup