For some pet owners, losing a pet is like losing a child. The emotional distress can be almost as heavy as losing a blood relative. However, death is somewhat easier to accept if the passing was expected or can be explained. For pet owners who lose a pet and suspect foul play, finding the answers can ease the grieving process. If you live in an area where coyotes are seen, understanding a coyote's habitat, diet, hunting patterns and other identifying signs may help you deduce whether or not your pet was killed by one.
Coyotes have adapted to urban development. They can survive in residential communities and suburbs. "More than 5,000 coyotes roam the city of Los Angeles," according to the Los Angeles Almanac website. If you have heard of coyotes roaming your neighborhood, don't ignore the rumor. Contact your state or local wildlife division or animal control agency to find out the truth. A coyote's habitat is not limited to the prairies, deserts and mountainous regions of North America. Knowing whether or not you and your pet coexist with coyotes can be a telling sign later that a coyote killed your pet if in the future it goes missing.
A coyote will eat anything -- small rodents, fruits, berries, sheep, frogs and even small pets. According to "Your Guide to Avoiding Human-Coyote Conflicts" by the Colorado Division of Wildlife website, "Coyotes have taken pets from backyards, open spaces and even right off the leash." Their main diet is mice, rabbits, rats, squirrel and voles; however, a coyote will make other animals their prey if need demands it. Understand that while your domesticated pet may be a lovable friend, to a coyote it is food.
Another sign that your pet was killed by a coyote may be connected to the time and season the incident occurred. Coyotes hunt any time, day or night, but their prime times are dusk and dawn. Keep extra guard of your pet during these times. During the fall or winter, when food is scare, take extra precautions because that is when coyotes hunt in packs. Also, expect more coyote activity from spring to summer, after their pups are born. Their need for food is greater while the pups are growing. Hungry pups increase the chance that a coyote may use your small pet as a food supply.
The following questions are signs that a coyote may have killed your pet if you answer yes. Do you leave pet food or water lying around outside? Coyotes have a strong sense of smell and will be attracted to these sources. Do you have a bird feeder that attracts small mammals? Coyotes eat small mammals. Do you let your pet outside unprotected? Unguarded pets are easy prey. Have you heard howling or barking? Coyotes howl, yelp, huff and bark to communicate. If you answer no, you can reasonable deduce that your pet was not killed by a coyote and then use these questions as steps to prevent a kill from happening.