Residents express concern about coyotes in residential areas

Being in the desert, it is no secret that people often have to coexist with wildlife living on the outskirts of town.

But after sightings of coyotes in residential areas, some Henderson residents are expressing concerns.

Mary Brown, who lives in the Coventry community in Henderson, said neighbors have reported seeing the animals in parks and backyards.

"Our Neighborhood Watch group has a Facebook page," Brown said. "People have been posting every time they see them. I know we have a problem."

Doug Nielsen, a spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, said seeing coyotes isn't necessarily a safety issue.

"The first thing people need to understand is we live in the Mojave Desert," Nielsen said. "If there is a bona fide public safety concern, we will remove them. But we don't relocate them. We euthanize them."

Nielsen said that from 2006 to 2010, while Clark County had a higher number of dog bites, there weren't any reports of coyote bites.

"There was more of an issue with domestic dogs," Nielsen said.

Most of the calls the Nevada Department of Wildlife gets regarding coyotes are just when people see them.

"They say, 'We saw a coyote three hours ago on the golf course,' " Nielsen said.

He added that the problem with following up with that call is that by the time an agent goes to investigate, the animal usually is gone.

Nielsen said one thing people don't realize is that the same things that draw residents to live in master-planned communities also attract wildlife. He added that some master-planned communities center around a golf course, which sometimes have a corridor that flows into washes on the outskirts of the desert.

Because of the plant life and water source, animals, such as rabbits or mice, are attracted to the area, which then brings predators.

"If you had your choice between living in the desert and catching the odd jack rabbit every so often or living along the fairway and having plump rabbits every couple of days, what would you do?" Nielsen said.

The positive thing about having coyotes, or other wildlife animals such as bobcats or foxes, is that they keep the rodent and rabbit population in check, Nielsen said.

"It's all part of the balance," Nielsen said.

Brown said the coyote sightings in the neighborhood are becoming more frequent. She added that some of her neighbors have had their pets snatched by the coyotes.

"I had one neighbor who had a coyote try to follow her cat through the doggie door," Brown said.

Nielsen said house cats and small dogs can become quick and easy prey for coyotes, so residents shouldn't let their animals wander.

"People should follow the leash laws," Nielsen said.

In some cases, Nielsen added, people will take their dogs out to the edge of the desert, unleash them and let them run free. If their dog chases a coyote, the coyote often will try to flee.

However, Nielsen said if the coyote feels threatened, it will defend itself against the dog.

"In that case, the coyote will have the upper hand," Nielsen said.

Brown is also concerned about small children.

"There are no documented coyote attacks (in Las Vegas)," Nielsen said. "Not to say there aren't cases other places."

Nielsen said parents need to be mindful of where their children are.

Nielsen encourages people to use common sense when dealing with any wild animal.

"Don't feed them intentionally or even unintentionally," Nielsen said.

People shouldn't leave out pet food when their animals aren't eating and should store it in containers that make it difficult for coyotes to get into. Residents should also be mindful of leaving out garbage.

If people find coyotes in their backyard, such as cases reported by Sun City Anthem and Coventry residents, Nielsen said they shouldn't back the animal into a corner, in which case it often feels it can't escape and attacks.

Residents can also take preventative methods in deterring coyotes from entering their yards by making sure bushes and trees remain trimmed so the animal doesn't feel it has a place to hide.

"Make sure they don't feel comfortable," Nielsen said.

For more information on the Nevada Department of Wildlife, visit

Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at or 702-387-5201.