|The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today issued annual guidance on preventing conflicts between people and coyotes as winter gives way to spring.
"This time of year, DEC sees an uptick in questions from New Yorkers regarding coyotes and their behavior," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "While coyotes are an integral and beneficial part of our natural ecosystem, we strongly encourage all New Yorkers to do their part and follow our common-sense tips to ensure coyotes remain wary of people and minimize the chance of conflicts."
With the onset of warmer weather, many of New York's resident coyotes will set up dens for pups that will arrive this spring. Coyotes are well adapted to suburban and even some urban environments, but for the most part will avoid contact with people. However, conflicts with people and pets may result as coyotes tend to be territorial around den sites during the spring through mid-summer period as they forage almost constantly to provide food for their young.
To reduce or prevent potential conflicts, DEC recommends the public:
- Not feed coyotes and discourage others from doing so;
- Reduce the risks of making unintentional food sources available to attract coyotes and other wildlife and increase risks to people and pets, including:
- 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; and
- 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.
- Not allow coyotes to approach people or pets;
- Teach children to appreciate coyotes from a distance;
- Be aggressive in behavior if you see a coyote: Stand tall and hold arms out to look large. If a coyote lingers for too long, then make loud noises, wave your arms, and throw sticks and stones;
- 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 to coyotes;
- Fence yards to help 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 local police department and DEC regional office for assistance if coyotes are exhibiting bold behaviors and have little or no fear of people. Seeing a coyote occasionally throughout the year is not evidence of bold behavior; and
- Ask neighbors to follow these same steps.
The Eastern coyote can be found in rural farmlands and forests and occasionally in populated suburban and urban areas. In fact, coyotes can provide many exciting wildlife watching opportunities from a distance. In most cases, coyotes avoid people as much as possible. However, if coyotes learn to associate people with food, such as garbage or pet food, they may lose their natural fear of humans, and the potential for close encounters or conflicts increases.
It is important to keep pets safe. Cats allowed to roam free are at risk. To protect cats from coyotes, other wildlife, and hazards like automobiles, keep cats indoors. Owners of small dogs also have cause for concern. Small dogs are at the greatest risk of being harmed or killed when coyotes are being territorial during denning and pup-rearing. Small dogs should not be left unattended in backyards at night and should remain supervised. Owners of large- and medium-sized dogs have less to worry about but should still take precautions.
If coyotes are seen repeatedly during the daytime in a human-populated area or in proximity to residences, follow the above recommendations to reduce or prevent potential problems. If coyote behavior remains unchanged or becomes threatening, please report this to the local DEC office, as this may indicate that some individual coyotes have lost their fear of people and a greater risk for problems could occur.
For additional information about the Eastern Coyote and preventing conflicts with coyotes, visit these DEC websites:
Feeding Wildlife: A Wrong Choice
Tips to Eliminate Wildlife Conflicts
Regional DEC Wildlife Offices