When You See a Coyote, What Should You Do Next?

Coyotes sightings are on the rise, even in suburbs and cities across the nation. Here's what to do if you ever spot one.


First things first, know that coyote attacks on humans are very rare. “You are actually more likely to be struck by lightning or killed by a golf ball than you are to be attacked by a coyote,” says Lynsey White Dasher, an urban wildlife specialist with The Humane Society of the United States, who adds that coyotes attack only eight to 10 people a year on average. More often than not, a coyote will bolt at the sight of any human activity. However, if you do come into contact with a coyote and it doesn’t run away you should haze the coyote, Dasher says.

How to haze a coyote:

  1. Face your body toward the coyote
  2. Make yourself big by waving your arms around
  3. Yell or blow a whistle or a horn
  4. Repeat these steps until the coyote runs away

To avoid accidentally luring a coyote into your yard in the first place, Dasher advises keeping a tight lid on garbage cans and not leaving any food outdoors. (Coyotes will smell that leftover slice of pizza by the garage.)

Attacks on Pets

A coyote’s preferred prey is small mammals including rats, mice, rabbits, and squirrels. However, Dasher explains that “an unattended small pet may look like available prey to a coyote.” Unless, you own a giant Bernese Mountain dog, it is essential to be proactive to keep your pet safe, especially in winter when other food sources may be scarce.

To keep pets safe from coyotes:

  1. Don’t let your dog out in your yard alone, unless you have a coyote-proof fence.
  2. Keep cats indoors or in an enclosed patio.
  3. Walk your dog on a leash at all times. Dogs off leash look more tempting to coyotes.
  4. If you see a coyote, pick up your dog and follow the hazing guidelines.

Remember coyotes have an ingrained natural fear of people and large animals. Unless enticed by food or frightened, a coyote should leave you well enough alone. If you see a coyote that is being aggressive, alert your local animal control.

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