If you see a coyote in your neighborhood, you shouldn’t panic, but you should keep an eye on it. Coyotes almost never attack people, but they may see your pets as either threats or prey. If a coyote seems unafraid of people or aggressive, report it immediately.
If coyotes can find food around neighborhoods consistently, they may slowly start losing their fear of people. When that happens, they may wander closer to yards or try their approaching during the day. The less shy they are, the more dangerous they become. Here’s what you should know about the coyotes near you and how you can protect your home from them:
Where Do Coyotes Come From?
Coyotes are (in)famously adaptable, and can live in virtually any ecosystem in North America. Above all, coyotes are opportunistic scavengers. They tend to wander from place to place looking for food sources that are abundant and/or easy to steal from. If they can’t find food in one place, they’ll quickly wander somewhere else. Coyote families are quite mobile and change territory quickly. If they can find food consistently, however, they will establish and defend home territories.
Coyotes establish territories by marking them with urine and occasionally protecting to look for outside threats. They'll generally try to make their territories small and centered around consistent, abundant food sources. If they have to hunt or gather, they’ll expand their territory until they can get enough food from it. Families can establish territory and dens anywhere, including neighborhoods and even cities. The coyote in your neighborhood have either established their territory around you, or they’re looking for new territory.
What Do Coyotes Want?
Coyotes usually wander into neighborhoods looking for easy food sources. Though coyotes are omnivorous, 90% of their preferred diet is meat. Most tend to search for territories where they can easily access regular, meaty food sources. They frequently hunt small mammals, but they’ll also help themselves to garbage and (occasionally) pets. If you have a coyote in your neighborhood, it’s probably passing through looking for food. If it can find what it wants stress-free, it just might stick around.
Coyotes are naturally very shy, wary animals. They will avoid humans and attempt to access food unseen if at all possible. Most are crepuscular, which means they’re active at dawn and dusk. They usually spend days hiding in their dens, brush, or other shady, hidden places. They come out long enough to access food before hiding again when the sun rises. Coyotes are particularly attracted to food sources they can rely on without having to expose themselves.
When Are Coyotes a Problem?
Normally, you shouldn’t worry too much about coyotes around your neighborhood. A coyote family is very shy and will do everything they can to avoid humans. They should be more afraid of you than you are of them. You shouldn’t necessarily be afraid even if you see a coyote out during an unusual time of day. During spring and summer, coyotes spend more time scavenging than usual while they look for food for their pups.
Coyotes may be dangerous if they’re behaving unusually or show no fear of people. If they become too comfortable in a neighborhood, they may begin to stalk pets or even challenge people. When that happens, they may behave like aggressive dogs, barking, snarling, or lunging at you. Territorial coyotes may also antagonize or attack your pets, particularly at night. Coyote attacks on humans are very rare, but they do happen. You should take unafraid or aggressive animals very seriously. Bring your pets inside and report the coyote immediately.
How Can I Keep Coyotes Away From My Home?
Coyotes come near homes looking for easily-accessible food, usually out of garbage dumpsters. They’re more likely to get close if they can use cover to stay hidden while they approach. Coyotes are more likely to show up in open, accessible yards. Pet food, berries and fallen fruit, or even fallen nuts and bird seed could all also attract hungry coyotes. Figuring out what they want and how to keep them from getting it is the best way to keep coyotes out.
First and foremost, you should protect your outdoor garbage bin. Keep all your garbage in sealable plastic bags, even when you dump it into the bin. Tie the bin closed with a bungee cord when you’re not using it. If possible, keep bins and dumpsters inside or in your garage. Next, look for other food sources around your yard. Pick up fallen fruit and seeds, take pet food inside, and make sure garbage doesn’t accumulate around your dumpster. If possible, investing in a fence with buried wire aprons will make your yard substantially less coyote-accessible.
Like all wildlife, a coyote is a natural and normal part of their environments. In their proper habitat, they’re actually important contributors to a balanced ecosystem! Keeping them away from homes isn’t just best for you; it’s best for the environment and the coyotes themselves. If you can keep a coyote from getting too comfortable, then it won’t endanger you or your pets.
If you have more questions about coyote problems or any potential wildlife problems, please give Varment Guard a call. Our wildlife experts are always happy to give you the knowledge and assistance you need to keep your home safe.