Living with Coyotes in Strathcona County
Tips for avoiding encounters with coyotes and to protect your pets.
- Don't leave pet food or edible garbage out
- Remove things that may attract them to your yard such as fallen apples or bird seed that entices rodents or birds
- Manage compost to prevent wildlife access
- Don't allow pets to run uncontrolled as they are seen as prey (or competition and may be attacked)
- In rural areas, prevent your dog from free-ranging during the January-February coyote breeding season
The coyote resembles a medium-sized dog, grey or reddish grey with rusty-coloured legs, feet and ears. The throat and belly are whitish in colour, while its nose is more pointed and it has a bushier tail than domestic dogs. Their tail is held down between its legs when running.
Their head and body lengths range from 112 - 138 centimetres and its tail is 27 - 40 centimetres. They can weigh 9 - 23 kilograms. Males tend to be larger than females.
Hybrids called coy-dogs are a cross-breed of coyote and domestic dog. Their offspring show a variety of coat colours and are not as afraid of humans.
Coyotes have amazing stamina and an ability to adapt to civilization which ensures their survival in many environments. Mating occurs in January-February with gestation being approximately 63 days, with about 6 pups born per litter. Coyotes tend to build their dens in secluded, well-drained sites, but will also reside under buildings, in culverts, abandoned vehicles, or other protected sites within civilization. During the mating season, coyotes are highly visible as they travel.
Coyotes communicate with a variety of barks, howls, and yaps. They tend to vocalize more during twilight and nocturnal hours. They prefer to hunt in pairs and groups for larger prey, including deer and domestic animals (calves, sheep, llamas, dogs, and cats). They are opportunistic in the farmyard and will consume cats and small dogs. The coyote has a large and seasonal dependent diet. They tend to be ecologically beneficial meat eaters, the diet including mice, gophers, rabbits, birds, and eggs. They will readily consume insects, reptiles, berries, grain, compost, and barnyard wastes. Surplus food is sometimes hidden for later use.
Four reasons for human/coyote interactions:
Curiosity - coyotes are adaptable and opportunistic; they check things out to see what they are and if it is food
Depredation - coyotes are constantly in seach of food; habituated coyotes view human activities such as garbage disposal or livestock productions as a food source
Territorial - coyotes will defend a den site or territory and will challenge free-ranging dogs or dogs with handlers
Other - unusual circumstances such as injury or sick coyote pups may allow them to seem tame and put them in proximity with humans. A common disease amongst coyotes is Sarcoptic mange. The coyotes lose their body hair and want to be in the proximity of human habitation to take advantage of warm buildings and easy access to food.
If you encounter a coyote:
- Make yourself appear large - waving your arms or a walking stick at the animal
- Try to stand your ground - throw rocks, sticks, and other objects
- Try to startle the animal with noise such as a blast whistle or small air horn
- Carry dog spray when in areas coyotes frequent
- Shout in a deep voice and maintain eye contact
- If the coyote continues to approach, back away slowly and move toward buildings or where people are
- Do not turn away or run as it will encourage the animal to chase
- Female coyotes will defend their den sites and young so use extra caution in this situation
In rural settings where bylaws allow, firearms may be used to control or deter coyotes. Please refer to the Firearm Control Bylaw 11-2007.
Tips on trapping, snaring, and other deterrent options are available by contacting Transportation and Agriculture Services.
Transportation and Agriculture Services
Last updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Page ID: 3483