Why coyote sightings in St. Louis are expected to grow in coming weeks  

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ST. LOUIS – A rise in the number of coyote sightings is expected in the coming weeks, as mating season begins in late January and continues into March.  

“It’s really a cyclical thing that happens every year,” Dan Zarlenga, Missouri Department of Conservation spokesperson, said.

The Missouri Department of Conservation has provided an online field guide to the public about the animals and created a video about urban coyotes. 

Coyotes are indigenous to Missouri and known for their adaptability. It’s not unusual to see a coyote in suburban or urban areas.  

Dr. Doug Pernikoff provides animal care for Watson Road Veterinary Clinic in south St. Louis. With a background in zoos, wildlife, and conservation across the globe, he anticipates an increase in coyote sightings during the upcoming mating season. 

“The males are out looking for females and the females are out running away from the males,” Pernikoff said.

Coyotes can view dogs as a threat or even prey, according to Pernikoff, who has seen cases where they have injured or eaten dogs.

“Little dogs are much more vulnerable to being attacked by a coyote,” Pernikoff said.  

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Conservation officials recommend pet owners keep a close eye on cats and dogs, but they add that there’s no reason to be fearful.  

“It’s nothing to really panic about,” Zarlenga said. He said there are no known cases of a coyote attacking a human in Missouri but he emphasized not leaving pets outside unattended.  

Zarlenga also advises residents to make sure they’re not leaving anything out in their yard that can attract coyotes, such as an open trash can with garbage inside. He said bird food can also attract some rodents, which can further attract coyotes.  

He recommended that if a coyote does visit your backyard, make the visit as unpleasant as possible for the animal by shining light in its direction, making noise or throwing objects toward the coyote.

“Air horns are really effective,” said Zarlenga. He said if the coyote has a negative experience, it’s less likely to return.  


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