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Pet owners beware, coyotes on the hunt

SEATTLE – Dog and cat owners are being warned after a series of coyote sightings in and around the city. Coyote activity sees an uptick in the months of April through June, when pups are born and taught to hunt.

Whether you live in a city or in rural areas, wildlife experts say you need to take precaution to protect your best friends.

“Under 20 pounds is certainly an animal that I would be concerned about,” said Dr. Gene Mueller, manager of Regional Animal Services in Kent. Mueller said most shelters will start receiving calls about missing pets, mostly cats, this time of year.

“We expect that this will be a busy year for (state) Fish & Wildlife and interaction with wildlife,” he said.

After pupping season, coyotes teach their young to hunt. It means their territory will be growing out of the woods and potentially into backyards.

“If a coyote is out looking for food, a small dog is absolutely susceptible to prey. Cats absolutely as well,” said Mueller.

A fence is not enough to keep your pet safe, said Mueller. Pet owners should not let dogs outside off-leash between dusk and dawn, and house cats should stay in the house for safety.

If you manage feral cats, Mueller recommends making an escape available. “Tall posts seven feet or higher, or even little PVC tubes where the cats can get into them, but the predators can’t,” he suggested.

Dogs should also remain leashed when outside in parks and trails no matter the hour of the day, said Mueller. Coyotes will be aggressive to protect their young.

“Even if a coyote is not hunting for food, it certainly is going to protect its den. And your dog searching around in the bushes, might find something he wasn’t expecting.”

For more information on coyotes and what to do, head to http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/coyotes.html