Coyotes play a vital role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems across North America. As top predators, they help control populations of small mammals and rodents. Understanding coyote poop can provide valuable information about their diet, health, and behavior. In this article, we will explore everything you need to know about coyote poop, including identification, communication, health risks, and more.
Identifying Coyote Poop
Coyote poop is identified by considering the following factors:
- Size and shape: Coyote poop is typically 3-4 inches long and about 0.5-1 inch in diameter, with tapered ends.
- Color: The color can vary depending on the coyote’s diet, but it is generally dark brown or black.
- Texture: Coyote poop can be firm or crumbly and often contains visible remnants of their prey.
- Fur and bones: Coyote poop frequently contains fur, bones, and teeth from prey animals like rabbits, rodents, and birds.
- Seeds and plant matter: As opportunistic omnivores, coyotes occasionally consume fruits, berries, and other plant material, which can be found in their poop.
- Insects and other invertebrates: Coyotes may also eat insects and other invertebrates, which can be present in their feces.
- Area: Coyotes often deposit their poop along trails, roads, or other travel routes to mark their territory. Coyotes may also leave poop near their dens or along the edges of their territory to communicate with other coyotes.
Health Risks Associated with Coyote Poop
- Roundworms: Coyote poop can contain Baylisascaris procyonis, a type of roundworm that can infect humans and pets, causing severe illness.
- Tapeworms: Echinococcus granulosus, a type of tapeworm, can also be present in coyote feces and may cause cystic echinococcosis in humans.
- Giardia: This waterborne parasite can be transmitted through contaminated coyote feces, causing gastrointestinal symptoms in humans and pets.
B. Bacteria and Viruses
- Leptospirosis: This bacterial infection can be transmitted through contact with contaminated coyote urine or feces, causing flu-like symptoms in humans.
- Salmonella: Coyote feces can also contain Salmonella bacteria, which can cause foodborne illness in humans.
- Rabies: Although rare, coyotes can carry the rabies virus, and their feces may pose a risk if contaminated saliva is present.
Safety Precautions When Handling or Encountering Coyote Poop
Considering all the health risks associated with coyote poop, it’s essential that you take the following safety precautions for handling it:
- Protective gloves and gear: Always wear gloves and use a shovel or plastic bag when handling coyote feces to avoid direct contact with the waste.
- Proper disposal methods: Dispose of coyote feces in a sealed plastic bag and place it in an outdoor trash bin to prevent the spread of pathogens.
- Disinfecting affected areas: Use a disinfectant to clean any surfaces or objects that have come into contact with coyote poop, particularly in areas where children or pets play.
What Coyote Poop Tells Us About Their Diet
Examining coyote poop can tell us a lot about their diet.
- Analysis of poop contents: Examining the contents of coyote feces can reveal valuable information about their diet, helping researchers understand their role in the ecosystem.
- Seasonal variations in diet: Coyote diets may shift seasonally based on the availability of food sources. For example, they may consume more plant material, such as fruits and berries, during the summer months when they are abundant.
- Insights into local prey populations and food sources: The presence of certain prey items in coyote poop can provide information about local prey populations and help inform wildlife management decisions.
Importance of Coyote Poop in Wildlife Tracking and Research
Here’s why coyote poop is important for wildlife tracking and research.
- Assessing coyote population size and distribution: Researchers can use coyote poop to track the presence and distribution of coyotes in a given area, helping to inform population estimates and conservation efforts.
- Monitoring coyote health and diet: Analyzing the contents and appearance of coyote feces can offer insights into the health and diet of individual coyotes, as well as the overall population.
- Informing wildlife management decisions: Understanding coyote poop can provide valuable information for wildlife managers, helping them make informed decisions about habitat management, prey populations, and human-coyote interactions.
How to Discourage Coyotes from Defecating in Your Yard
We recommend the following three steps for discouraging coyotes from defecating in your yard.
A. Remove Attractants
- Secure trash bins: Use secure lids and store trash bins in a garage or shed to prevent coyotes from accessing food waste.
- Keep pet food and water indoors: Do not leave pet food or water outside, as this can attract coyotes.
- Clean up fallen fruit and birdseed: Regularly clean up fallen fruit from trees and spilled birdseed from bird feeders to reduce food sources for coyotes.
B. Modify the Landscape
- Remove hiding spots and denning areas: Trim back bushes and remove woodpiles or debris that could provide cover for coyotes.
- Install fencing and barriers: Use tall, sturdy fencing to enclose your yard and deter coyotes from entering.
C. Employ Deterrents
- Motion-activated lights and sprinklers: Install motion-activated lights or sprinklers to scare off coyotes that approach your property.
- Scare devices and repellents: Use commercially available coyote repellents or homemade deterrents, such as ammonia-soaked rags, to discourage coyotes from entering your yard.
In summary, understanding coyote poop can provide valuable insights into the lives of these fascinating animals, their role in the ecosystem, and their impact on human health and safety. By identifying and interpreting coyote poop, we can better appreciate and coexist with these important predators. Moreover, by implementing preventive measures and taking necessary precautions, we can minimize the risks associated with coyote feces and maintain a safe and healthy environment for ourselves, our pets, and the wildlife around us.