ECO SAFE PEST MANAGEMENT FOR COYOTES
Coyotes feed primarily on rodents, squirrels and other small animals. They may feed on a larger animal if it is dead or severely hurt from something else and can’t defend itself. When we go out and kill coyotes for the fun of it, which is ridiculous, we are creating an environmental problem that can cause serious problems for people and their pets.
In NM, we have approximately 107 species of fleas and about a third of them are known possible vectors of the plague.
When we kill off one of the main predators of rodents in an area, the rodent population will increase exponentially.
A large number of flea species feed on rodents and many of them are possible vectors of the plague. I know of 26 species of possible plague vectors that feed on rodents (listed below). When the rodent population explodes they are more likely to invade human habitation looking for food and water and they bring their fleas with them. Then a lot of people will put out rodenticides to kill the rodents.
When the rodents die, any fleas on their body will leave as it cools down and look for another food source, which can be a family pet or even a person and plague could become a serious issue. Or a pet will chase and kill a squirrel or pack rat and pick up the fleas. If we left the coyotes alone, they would continue to prey on rodents and squirrels that can vector the plague.
The following species of fleas are known possible vectors of the plague in New Mexico.
Aetheca wagneri, Pleochaetis exilis, Thrassis bacchi, Thrassis fotus, Foxella ignota, Peromyscopsylla hesperomys, Anomiopsyllus nudatus, Megarthroglossus bisetis, Megarthroglossus cavernicolus, Megarthroglossus divisus, Megarthroglossus procus, Megarthroglossus wilsoni, Stenistomera alpina, Catalagia decipiens, Epitedia stanfordi, Eumolpianus eumolpi, Malaraeus sinomus, Opisodasys keeni, Orchopeas leucopus, Orchopeas sexdentatus, Orchopeas neotomae, Oropsylla montanus, Oropsylla hirsuta, Rhadinopsylla sectilis, Atypholceras echis, and Hytrichopsylla dippiei. There are other species of plague fleas, but the ones above all feed on rodents and squirrels, the main food of coyotes.
Hunters will say that coyotes hunt in packs and bring down cattle, which is not true. Coyotes usually hunt alone, but occasionally mated pairs will hunt together. They are not social as are dogs and wolves.
Many ranchers and farmers hate coyotes because they believe coyotes are responsible for killing their livestock. Although the occasional calf may be the victim of a hungry coyote, coyotes are not going to put any rancher out of business. Basically, they do far more good in keeping nature in balance than any harm. Of course, if anyone has a problem with coyotes on their private property, they can do what they want, but coyotes should not be killed on public land, either state land or federal land. This is important because it is a very serious health issue.
If you live in an area where coyotes are normally present, but have declined because of hunters or those coyote bait stations, then you will probably have more rodents. If so, don’t use any rodenticides. When the rodenticides kill the rodents, then the fleas will leave the dead rodent and bite a pet or a person and the plague could develop. Also, never let a pest control company use rodenticides on your property for that reason and they should never be used on city, county or state properties either. Leg traps should never be used either. Let the coyotes maintain the rodent population and everyone will be better off. Keep your pets indoors at night.