The Eastern coyote is found in many habitats, from rural farmland and forests to populated suburban and urban areas in New York State. Coyotes are well adapted to suburban and even urban environments, but for the most part will avoid conflicts with people.
However, conflicts with people and pets may result, particularly during the spring denning and pupping period. If coyotes learn to associate food, such as garbage or pet food with peoples’ homes, they may lose their natural fear of humans and the potential for close encounters or conflicts increases.
Awareness is key to minimizing potential conflicts. To reduce or prevent conflicts with coyotes, New Yorkers are encouraged to take the following steps:
- Do not feed coyotes. Discourage others from doing so.
- Pet food and garbage attract coyotes and other wildlife and increase risks to people and pets. Therefore:
- Do not feed pets outside.
- Make any garbage inaccessible to coyotes and other animals.
- Fence or enclose compost piles so they are not accessible to coyotes.
- Eliminate availability of bird seed. Concentrations of birds and rodents that come to feeders can attract coyotes. If you see a coyote near your birdfeeder, clean up waste seed and spillage to remove the attractant.
- Do not allow coyotes to approach people or pets. If you see a coyote, be aggressive in your behavior: stand tall and hold your arms up or out to look large. If a coyote lingers for too long, then make loud noises, wave your arms and throw sticks and stones.
- Teach children to appreciate coyotes from a distance.
- Do not allow pets to run free. Supervise all outdoor pets to keep them safe from coyotes and other wildlife, especially at sunset and at night. Small dogs and cats are especially vulnerable.
- Fenced yards may deter coyotes. The fence should be tight to the ground, preferably extending six inches below ground level and taller than four feet.
- Remove brush and tall grass from around your home to reduce protective cover for coyotes. Coyotes are typically secretive and like areas where they can hide.
- Contact your local police department and DEC regional office for assistance if you notice coyotes exhibiting “bold” behaviors and having little or no fear of people, or if you see them repeatedly during the daytime in a human-populated area or near residences. Seeing a coyote occasionally throughout the year is not evidence of bold behavior.
- Ask neighbors to follow these same steps.
Photo of Eastern coyote radio-collared by researchers (provided by SUNY ESF and DEC).