The Cook County, Illinois, Coyote Project



  Avoiding Conflicts



  •  Steps to Avoid Conflicts with Coyotes

  •  When Should I Be Concerned?

  • Coyote Management



Conflicts with coyotes can be avoided by taking simple precautions or by altering behaviors to avoid confrontation:

1.      Do not feed the coyotes.

2.      Do not let pets run loose.

3.      Do not run from a coyote.

4.      Repellents or fencing may help.

5.      Report aggressive, fearless coyotes immediately.


Intentional feeding, such as bait stations in yards or parks, should be avoided. However, many people unintentionally feed coyotes by leaving pet food or garbage out at night or having large bird feeders. Coyotes are usually not interested in bird food, but bird feeders often attract rodents, especially squirrels, which then attract coyotes. Although coyotes seem to have a natural inclination to avoid human-related food, this can change when prey populations are low, or if the coyotes are young and haven’t yet learned to hunt effectively.



If coyotes live nearby, do not let pets run loose, especially domestic cats. When hiking in urban parks, keep dogs on leashes.



When you encounter a coyote, shout or throw something in its direction.



Some repellents may work in keeping coyotes out of small areas such as yards, although these have not been tested thoroughly for coyotes. Repellents may involve remotely activated lights or sound-making devices. Fencing may keep coyotes out of a yard, particularly if it is more than 4 feet in height with a roll bar across the top.



When a coyote fails to exhibit fear of humans or acts aggressively by barking or growling in the yard or playground, the animal must be reported as soon as possible to the appropriate officials — usually an animal control officer or police officer.




A list of signs indicating an increase in threats from coyotes is presented here (see Figure 1).  However, it is important to note that coyotes are highly variable in their behavior, and this sequence may not always be predictive:


Fig. 1.-- Indicators of threats from coyotes


Negative stimuli and removal programs are types of direct wildlife management.


Negative Stimuli:  People should be encouraged to act aggressively toward coyotes during encounters, to re-instill a fear of humans in coyotes.

  • In many cases, this involves shouting, waving, or clapping hands, and looking as tall as possible.

  • Residents in some communities will chase coyotes by banging pots and pans, or throwing balls or rocks at them.  However, this should be done within reason so as not to create conflicts that might not otherwise occur by injuring or cornering a coyote that simply wants to escape.

  • Relatively small properties that have coyote visitors may be able to use scare devices for coyotes, such as electronic sirens and lights, although these have not yet been tested thoroughly.  We have successfully used game cameras with flashes to repel coyotes from yards, but these may not work in every circumstance.


Removal Programs:  There are instances where coyote habituation is so severe that the coyotes can be considered an immediate threat to people, especially children and pets. This is when removal is often warranted.

  •  Lethal removal is accomplished either through trapping/euthanasia or shooting. Coyotes are difficult to trap or shoot, and these actions should be undertaken by professionals, especially in urban areas. Removal efforts should observe state and municipal codes. Fortunately, because of habituation, nuisance coyotes are often easier to capture than non-habituated individuals.

  • Removal programs designed to target specific nuisance coyotes will be more successful than broad removal programs that have a goal of removing a complete population of coyotes. It is difficult to capture all coyotes residing in an area, and as coyotes are removed, they are replaced by solitary ones.

  •  Removal, especially lethal removal, is often controversial within communities. This is especially true when the perceived threat by coyotes is somewhat ambiguous to residents.

  • Removal programs can also be expensive, either for residents or municipalities, and traps can occasionally capture pets.

For these reasons, as well as ethical reasons, coyote removal is best employed only after education has been attempted or if there is an immediate, and obvious, threat to human safety.



Management programs for urban coyotes should begin with public education and untangling facts from myths.  See Management for more information.

  •  People should become aware of coyote signs and understand the differences between true threats and coexistence.

  • It is important to stress that our relationship with coyotes is directly affected by our behavior — coyotes react to us, and we can foster mutual respect or a lack of respect through cues we send to coyotes.

  •  Some people are enamored with coyotes. They like seeing them near their yards and attempt to entice them by baiting them, or they want to try to “tame” them.  Intentional feeding, such as this, should be prohibited, otherwise other management solutions will be temporary at best.

  • People should be discouraged from inadvertent feeding where coyotes are present.  This includes leaving pet food outside at night and maintaining large bird feeders that attract multiple species of wildlife.







The Cook County, Illinois, Coyote Project

The Ohio State University