Keep an eye on your pets when they’re outside.
Fairfax County Animal Protection Police say a coyote has attacked and killed a small dog in some woods in the Parklawn community.
Wildlife specialists say that dogs are vulnerable to coyote confrontations, especially when unattended. Conflicts between dogs and coyotes can happen year-round but are more likely during coyote mating season (January-March) and when coyotes are caring for their young (March-August).
Wildlife officials say coyotes are now established and widespread in Fairfax County. Last December a coyote was thought to have killed a dog in Annandale. Experts say pets left unattended outside may be at risk to coyotes, especially during nighttime and early morning hours.
Unprovoked conflicts between humans and coyotes are extremely rare. Coyotes are an established part of the local wildlife community in Fairfax County and, experts say, the mere presence of coyotes shouldn’t be alarming.
What to do
Here are some things you can do to prevent conflicts and the likelihood of a confrontation with a coyote:
- Never feed a coyote
- Securely cover your trash bins and compost piles
- Do not feed pets outside or store pet food outside
- Do not leave your pet unattended, even in a fenced yard
- Keep cats indoors
- Pick up ripe, fallen fruit and do not let it accumulate on the ground
- Keep dogs on short leashes (less than 6 feet) while walking outside
- Install motion sensor lights or a motion activated sprinkler around your home
The Fairfax County Police Department’s Animal Services Division is working to monitor coyote activity in the area using area searches and game cameras. Personnel are coordinating these efforts with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to determine if additional actions need to be taken. Reports of aggressive, sick or injured animals should be made to the Fairfax County Animal Protection Police through the Police non-emergency number at 703-691-2131.