Coyotes

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. 

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.

Image of a coyote in a field

Behaviour

Coyotes have amazing stamina and an ability to adapt to civilization, which ensures their survival in many environments. Mating occurs in January and February; gestation lasts approximately 63 days, with about six pups born per litter. During the mating season, coyotes are highly visible as they travel.

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. 

Coyotes are opportunistic in the farmyard and will consume cats and small dogs. They prefer to hunt in pairs and groups for larger prey, including deer and domestic animals (calves, sheep, llamas, dogs, and cats). They will readily consume insects, reptiles, berries, grain, compost, and barnyard wastes.

Reasons for human / coyote interactions

There are several reasons that lead to human and coyote interactions. Coyotes are curious and constantly in search of food. They view human activities such as garbage disposal or livestock productions as a food source. They are also territorial in defending den sites and will challenge free-ranging dogs. Sometimes, a sick or injured coyote pup will seek out a warm building or easy access to food.

  • 1. What can I do to avoid coyote encounters and protect my pets? Permanent link to What can I do to avoid coyote encounters and protect my 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
    • Please have children supervised at all times in areas with known coyote activity
    • Teach your children the above tips for what to do in a possible coyote encounter
    • In rural areas, prevent your dog from free-ranging during the January-February coyote breeding season
  • 2. What should I do if I encounter a coyote? Permanent link to What should I do if I encounter a coyote?

    • Make yourself appear large – wave 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

Management

In rural settings where bylaws allow, firearms may be used to control or deter coyotes. Please refer to the  Firearm Control Bylaw 3-2014 (194.6 KB) .

Tips on trapping, snaring, and other deterrent options are available by contacting Transportation and Agriculture Services.

Further information:

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Last updated: Thursday, June 13, 2019
Page ID: 38901