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What to Do about Coyotes

Hazing and securing food sources are more effective solutions to coyote problems than killing

  • A coyote in your neighborhood is probably just out foraging. Most coyotes are not aggressive toward people. Photo by William Weaver Photography

  • Coyote or German shepherd? Look for the coyote's black-tipped tail and yellow eyes. Photo by John Harrison

  • Most adult coyotes weigh between 20 and 35 pounds, but their thick coat and long legs make them appear larger. Photo by Dawn Macheca

  • Unlike wolves, coyotes hunt alone or in pairs. They hunt rodents by quietly stalking and then pouncing on their prey. Photo by Robert Whitney

  • Coyote breeding season is January-March. Once coyotes mate, they often stay together for life. Photo by richardseeleyphotography.com

  • Coyote pups are born in April and May, in litters usually ranging from four to seven pups. Photo by Penny Hall Photography

  • Male coyotes take an active role in raising their young. Other family members pitch in to feed and protect the pups. Photo by Robert Whitney

  • Mother coyotes often move their pups between several dens to protect them from predators. Photo by Robert Whitney

  • At six weeks, pups begin to explore outside their den. Come fall, they'll decide whether to stay with their family group. Photo by William Weaver Photography

Get tips for what to do if you see a coyote in your neighborhood or if your community is dealing with coyote problems.

If a coyote is in your neighborhood

If you spot a coyote in your neighborhood, relax: Most coyotes avoid people. “Seeing a coyote out during the day is not a cause for alarm, especially in the spring and summer when they’re looking for food for their pups,” says Lynsey White Dasher, HSUS director of humane wildlife conflict resolution.

If a coyote displays no fear of people, he’s probably been fed. You can reinstill his fear by raising your arms and yelling to drive him away. This is called hazing. Unlike trapping, which sometimes catches pets or other wildlife but rarely the coyotes who are causing problems, hazing works.

Coyotes may mistake small, unattended pets as prey or attack large dogs they view as threats to territory or dens. To keep your animals safe, take two simple steps:

1) Watch your pets. Keep cats indoors, and never leave small dogs outside unsupervised or let any dog out of your yard off leash.

2) Secure food sources. Store garbage in wildlife-proof containers and feed pets indoors.

Resources for Individuals

If coyotes are a problem in your community

Residents of Riverside, Illinois, started seeing coyotes around the village and soon some even lost pets.

There were calls to kill coyotes, and trappers contacted the village looking for business. But instead, in 2014 Riverside became the first community in the country to adopt an HSUS plan that uses nonlethal methods to keep communities safe: hazing bold coyotes and teaching residents to protect their pets and remove food sources.

This is more effective than trapping, which has to be repeated again and again, at great expense, and usually doesn’t catch the coyotes causing problems. The more coyotes are killed, the more they reproduce. Says White Dasher, “It doesn’t matter how many are trapped, there will always be coyotes in urban areas.”

In the first months after Riverside adopted the HSUS plan, coyote attacks on pets—and calls for coyotes to be trapped—stopped. They’re not likely to resume, White Dasher says. “Hazing changes coyote behavior and teaches them to avoid people and neighborhoods.”

Resources for Communities

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