Warning sparked as Carson City coyotes attack dogs; NDOW says drought part of problem | RecordCourier.com

Warning sparked as Carson City coyotes attack dogs; NDOW says drought part of problem

by John Barrette
jbarrette@nevadaappeal.com

A coyote hunts for varmints along Highway 88 in Minden in this file photo.

Coyotes attacking dogs on trails prompted Carson City's Parks and Recreation Department to issue a warning Monday to pet owners.

"It appears most of these incidents have occurred on the trails in east Carson City," according to the department, "specifically at the Riverview Park Wetlands Trail, Empire Ranch Trail and the Mexican Ditch Trail."

Scott Fahrenbruch, the department's deputy director, elaborated on the warning by saying more such incidents seem to have developed lately. Periodically, he said, such activity heightens for a few weeks before receding.

"There seems to be a spike going on," he said. "We've had them in the past."

He said a pet owner should have his or her dog on a leash to keep the animal nearby and the coyotes at bay, adding advice on the best times to avoid taking dogs for walks on the trails.

"Try to stay away from the hours near dawn and dusk because that's when they seem to be more active," he said. The department particularly stressed avoiding pre-dawn and early night-time hours.

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Departmental warning signs have been posted on the trails named above to advise dog owners about leashes and ask that they report any interactions or incidents they may have with coyotes or those on other local trails.

Trail users also were encouraged to be observant and alert regarding their pets at all times, according to the departmental warning, and to make certain a dog is current on vaccinations before taking to the local trails.

Chris Healy, public information officer at the Nevada Department of Wildlife, cited two probable reasons for the apparent spike. The first was the dry conditions.

"We're in the midst of a drought," he said, noting the river is low but a source of water for small animals and rodents who are near it. The coyotes head there to find food.

The second is that coyotes, thinned in population through winter months, have pups in the spring and by now the coyotes' need for food has grown. He warned people with small dogs, therefore, to be particularly cautious.

"The smaller the dog," he said, "the more risk they have."

Healy joined with the local parks and recreation officials in warning against walking dogs unleashed and at about dawn or dusk.