Common Coyote Questions
Coyotes are generally extremely shy animals that avoid contact with humans. However, human activities may lead to coyotes living in urban and suburban areas being less likely to fear people and more likely to associate them with an easy, dependable food source.
The following are common questions and answers about coyotes. View the LA/SPCA press release regarding the coyote sightings here.
Where do coyotes live?
Coyotes can be found in nearly every town and city.
I have read that coyote sightings are increasing. Does this mean that the coyote population is growing?
No, an increase in sightings does not necessarily mean that the coyote population is growing. Coyotes are territorial animals who actively defend their territory from transient coyotes. This means that they travel between 2 to 30 square miles while patrolling their territory. A single coyote traveling through its territory may be reported several times, which may lead people to believe that there are more coyote then there really are.
If a coyote is seen during the day is it rabid?
Coyotes primarily travel between dusk and dawn but during the spring and summer, when food needs are higher, they will move around during the daytime. This does not mean that they are rabid.
How many coyotes live in each territory?
Each territory has a resident family unit which consists of an alpha male and female (they mate for life), possibly 1 or 2 "teenage" coyotes called associate/helpers, and during the spring and summer a litter of 4 - 8 pups.
Why are coyotes seen more during the daytime in the spring and summer?
Like most animals, coyotes are giving birth to and raising their young in the spring, so during this time they have to search for more food to feed their young. Coyotes breed between January and February and the pups are born between March and April. Litters average approximately 5 pups that are weaned at 2 months old and fully independent at 9 months old (October).
Why are coyotes drawn to urban and suburban neighborhoods?
As habitat decreases, human and wildlife interactions increase. Coyotes are drawn to neighborhoods due to human encroachment of coyote habitat and for food and water.
Can a territory become "infested" with coyotes?
No. The resident coyotes do not tolerate other coyotes in their territory so it is impossible for an area to become "infested" with coyotes. Resident coyote defend their territories fiercely and will fight with intruding coyote to death if necessary.
What can state/local authorities do to protect public health and safety?
If an animal is posing a threat state and local officials have the authority to kill the animal. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries does NOT recommend relocation of wildlife because of the threat of spreading disease.
Are coyotes a protected species or can they be hunted?
Coyotes are not a protected species, but there is no coyote season in Louisiana.
How can I prevent conflicts with coyotes and other wildlife?
There are several simple steps you can do to minimize your chances of experiencing wildlife conflicts:
- Never feed a wild animal
- Avoid any contact with wildlife
- Keep trash securely covered or indoors
- Feed pets inside or supervise outdoor feedings/keep area clean
- Keep cats/dogs indoors and supervise them while outdoors
- Report any unusual behavior to local animal officials
What are the most effective ways to prevent conflicts with coyote?
- Keep children, cats, and dogs indoors and supervise when outdoors at all times
- Keep pets up to date on vaccinations
- Remove food and habitat sources for small animals like rodents (brush piles, wood piles, spilled bird seed, pet food/water, Koi ponds, and other water sources)
- Fencing (6 feet high and 1 foot below ground)
- Motion sensitive outdoor lighting
- Motion sensitive sprinklers
- Close off crawl spaces under decks, porches, and sheds
- Keep home in good repair
- Securing hobby livestock, rabbits, etc. in well built pens
What should I do if I encounter a coyote?
Coyotes are usually afraid of humans but if you encounter one you should attempt to leave the area calmly (do not run) and make loud noises. If a coyote is in your yard, let the coyote know that it is not welcome by making loud noises (like banging pots and pans together), spray it with hose, toss tennis balls near the animal - you want to scare it away, not hurt it. And NEVER attempt to touch, tame or feed a wild animal.
Why can't we just remove coyotes from a town that does not want them?
Efforts to eradicate the coyote across the country have failed largely because of the coyotes’ ability to adapt to changing circumstances and replenish their numbers. Removing coyotes is a short-term solution because it leaves the habitat open and transient coyotes looking for a territory will take the place of ones that are removed and the conflict will continue. The long-term solution is to focus on conflict prevention.
The media says that coyote encounters are increasing. What is the chance of people and children being attacked by coyotes?
The reality is that the chance of being attacked by a coyote is extremely low. But to further reduce your risk, do not feed coyotes, leave children unattended, or attempt to domesticate a wild animal.
This information was used with permission from Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. For more information on coyotes or their Intruder Exluder program visit mspca.org.