Coyotes raise hackles in city
Predators attracted to SV by food
By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer
In the verdant open spaces in and around
Sun Valley, the deer and the antelope really do play.
Coyotes are common throughout Idaho and
the Mountain West. Their populations are cyclical, typically following in
line with populations of rabbits and mice, on which they feed. Express photo
by Ken Retallic
And, to the dismay of some residents, so
do the coyotes.
"There’s a lot of foxes and coyotes
roaming the town," Sun Valley Police Chief Cam Daggett said this week.
In particular, Daggett said, residents in
recent weeks have been seeing two coyotes that have—in what he called a "bad
outcome" of people feeding wildlife—become accustomed to life in suburbia.
"They eat people’s cat food and
construction workers throw them sandwiches," Daggett said.
Surviving in part on "cat food here, a
sandwich there," the two coyotes have made somewhat of a home in the Elkhorn
area, Daggett said.
City Councilman Lud Renick, an Elkhorn
resident, expressed concern this week to fellow city officials about coyotes
venturing into his yard and harassing his family dog, Rowdy.
His wife, Shirley, said Thursday that
Rowdy, an Australian shepherd-border collie mix, approximately two weeks ago
became involved in an extended chase with a pair of "tall and lean" coyotes.
"She was chasing a coyote across the
(Elkhorn) golf course and there was another coyote running behind her," she
said. "It really frightened me."
After disappearing for about 15 minutes,
Rowdy returned uninjured, Renick said.
Since the incident, a single coyote has
continued to roam the neighborhood, she said, taking a wide berth around the
property unless Rowdy is outside.
"We’ve had one (coyote) out here most of
the summer," Renick said.
Daggett said the coyotes seen in the city
limits are seemingly unafraid of people but are not tame and should not be
"It’s a bad outcome of people feeding wild
animals," Daggett said. "It’s not just coyotes, it’s deer, it’s elk, and other
"They start out as good intentions. But it
often ends with a bad result."
The bad result typically comes to the wild
animals, which are often controlled—or killed—by authorities if they cross a
certain threshold of bad behavior or comfort around humans.
Daggett said he would certainly "frown
upon" any Sun Valley resident shooting coyotes in the city and has not yet
deemed it necessary to take measures to scare or dispose of the carnivores.
The police chief said he would likely take
action against the resident coyotes—possibly using rubber bullets to frighten
them or a trap to catch and remove them—if they caused property damage or
"We have not yet had the need to that," he
The coyote, Canis latrans, is a member of
the dog family that ranges throughout North America. Mountain-dwelling coyotes
can weigh up to 50 pounds.
Dave Parrish, Idaho Fish and Game regional
supervisor, said the state does not actively manage coyotes in the Wood River
Fish and Game will on occasion assist
local law enforcement agencies in removing so-called "problem animals," usually
using lethal methods, he said.
Parrish said he is not aware of any
incidents in recent years in which a coyote in the Sun Valley area harmed a
"Coyotes are very, very common throughout
Idaho," Parrish noted. "Usually they will come into inhabited areas when people
put out food or bait … Once they become habituated, they will lose their fear of
In the Wood River Valley, Parrish said,
some residents use food to bait coyotes and other wild animals into coming into
areas where they can be easily observed.
The practice, he said, is strongly
discouraged, largely because it can result in the harm of the animal or a family
Of coyotes, Parrish said: "As long as
they’ve got easy food, they’ll hang around."
Living With Wildlife
In the Wood River Valley, where
wildlife abounds, the Idaho Fish and Game Department recommends residents take
the following measures:
- Don’t leave any food, including pet
food, outside your house.
- Don’t leave your garbage outside
- Don’t ever feed wild animals.