Avoiding conflicts with coyotes

After reading through this website, you may be realizing a trend of some common suggestions; below is a list of those ideas. Although coyotes have been known to attack humans (and pets) and as such are a potential danger to people, especially children, we feel that the majority of attack incidents could be reduced or prevented through modification of human behavior. 

SIX EASY STEPS TO AVOID CONFLICTS WITH COYOTES

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

  1. Do not feed the coyotes
  2. Do not let pets run loose or be unattended
  3. Do not run from a coyote
  4. Repellents or fencing may help
  5. Report aggressive, fearless coyotes immediately
  6. Do not create conflict where it does not exist
Do not feed wildlife

1.  DO NOT FEED COYOTES

The number one most effective way to prevent coyote attacks in your neighborhood is to eliminate wildlife feeding. Coyotes that are fed in residential neighborhoods can lose their fear of people and may eventually test humans (and pets) as possible prey. Intentional feeding, such as bait stations in yards or parks, should be strictly 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. If you are seeing an increase in coyotes, double check your own actions to make sure compost piles and trash bins are not allowed to be a source of food. 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.

2.  DO NOT LET PETS RUN LOOSE

If coyotes live nearby (which they probably do, even if you don't know it), do not let pets run loose, especially domestic cats. When hiking in urban parks, keep dogs on leashes. Pets left outside, even with fencing, remain at risk for predation and unnecessary conflict. Do not leave your pets unattended outside, not even for a second.

Free-ranging domestic cats and feral cat colonies may also serve to attract coyotes; it is important that domestic cats be kept indoors and that feral cats be spayed or neutered when possible. Bringing food inside when feral outdoor cats are not feeding might alleviate part of this attractant.

3.  DO NOT RUN FROM A COYOTE

The presence of coyote pups can elevate negative adult coyote behaviors

When you encounter a coyote, shout or throw something in its direction. Do not run away. Do not play victim if you can help it. If a coyote seems intent on defending a certain area, particularly around pupping season (May), your best bet may be to alter your route to avoid conflict with a normally calm animal; understand that there may be seasonal patterns of behavioral changes and act accordingly. We recommend if you are out walking that you carry some sort of noise maker with you (some have reported success scaring off coyotes by shaking a can of rocks). 

If you see a coyote during the daytime, you should exhibit caution, as that coyote may have become habituated to humans (and may be more likely to attack). If you are approached by a coyote, you should yell, wave your arms, and/or throw something at the coyote (do not run away). 

Coyote 434, a regular in one area

4.  REPELLENTS OR FENCING MAY HELP

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 six feet in height with a roll bar across the top. Spray repellents (pepper spray, etc) that you can carry with you have been reported with only moderate to no success.

5.  REPORT AGGRESSIVE, FEARLESS COYOTES IMMEDIATELY

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

6.  DO NOT CREATE CONFLICT WHERE IT DOES NOT EXIST

If a coyote is acting as a coyote should by avoiding humans and pets, do not seek out opportunities to haze or otherwise aggravate the animal. Embracing communal respect is key.

WHEN SHOULD I BE CONCERNED?

Figure 1. Indicator chart of various coyote threat levels

Figure 1. Indicator chart of various coyote threat levels

A list of signs indicating an increase in threat from coyotes is presented here (see Figure 1). It is important to note, however, that coyotes are highly variable in their behavior and this sequence may not always be predictive. Still, management programs for urban coyotes should begin with public education and untangling facts from myths. People should 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 them. Coyote removal is best employed as a solution only after education has been attempted or if there is an immediate, and obvious, threat to human safety.

Coyote 1

Coyote 1 was the first coyote captured on the project, on March 22, 2000, and has become the signature coyote of our research. When she was originally captured, she was just a year old and solitary. She weighed 13 kg (about 29 lbs), and was in excellent health, if not a little on the small side. In coyote years, she was a teenager. We tracked her movements over portions of five cities for the next nine months, as she floated across the landscape looking for a territory.