Urban Coyote Behavior
Updated: May 11
URBAN COYOTE BEHAVIOR
We seem to have a lot of coyote sightings lately, and there are several reasons.
There is the loss of their natural habitat because of increased building in the city where their dens were located, so we see them more in our neighborhoods simply because theier territory has shrunk and they are out more looking for food.
There is an increase in garbage which they use as a food source or which rodents use as a food source, and rodents are coyotes’ primary food.
Our cell phones make it easy for us to upload photos to social media.
When coyotes are raising their pups in the spring and summer, they need to find more food, so they may be more active during the day and therefore we will see them more often.
I learned a lot about urban coyotes in researching and writing these articles. What I thought I knew, I discovered was wrong. I learned about Urban Coyote Behavior and am now more aware of what to look for.
Coyotes are territorial and their territory is based on how much food is available. If a coyote is removed from its territory (either by animal control or death), then multiple coyotes will try to claim that now-vacant territory, mate, and ultimately increase both the number of coyotes and the size of their litters. Therefore, it’s up to us to make sure that there are few food resources in their territory so they will have to increase the size of their territory and spend less time in our neighborhood.
In other words, if there is an abundant food source, their territory is smaller, they will stay in that area, and sightings will be more frequent. If the food source is scarce, they will have to expand their territory to find more food and we will see them less frequently.
In a nutshell, take away the food, coyote sightings will be less frequent. Hopefully. THAT DOESN'T MEAN THEY HAVE LEFT THE AREA.
Knowing where urban coyote dens are located is important because if a coyote is aggressive (stands still or approaches you with teeth bared), it’s likely because there is a den nearby, especially one with pups. They protect dens and their territory.
Their dens are located in and around
Abandoned buildings, warehouse, houses, sheds
Alongside freeways, highways, parking lots, horse trails, golf courses, railroad lines, stadiums, and soccer fields
Anyplace where there is sandy soil
Burrows of other animals
Crawl spaces in houses
Old storm drains
Other animals’ dens
Sides of ravines or (such as on both sides of Barrington Avenue north of San Vicente Boulevard in West Los Angeles)
Under bushes and trees which give them protective cover
Undeveloped or vacant lots
Under building foundations, especially in older buildings
Vacant lots, especially ones with vegetation where they can hide
Wooded patches and shrubbery in open areas such as golf courses and parks because they can hide
Even if you don’t see them, you may see their poop or scat, which is different than dogs’. We complain about people not picking up poop in the sidewalk. Well, it may be theirs, which is stringy or rope-like and contains hair and bones. You may also see animal or bird carcasses that are not fully consumed. Or you may hear their yips or howls.
DO NOT EVER FEED COYOTES. First, it is against the law. More importantly, coyotes naturally fear humans and will lose this fear if they are fed. If they lose their fear, they will become more aggressive because they will come up to ANY human – not just the person who fed them – and demand food.
Urban coyotes are adaptable and opportunistic eaters. Rodents, i.e., rats and mice, are the main food source for urban coyotes. (Interestingly, if a coyote is removed from an area, the rodent population increases in that area. If rodents have decreased in your area, thank a coyote.) If they can’t eat rodents, they will eat
Fruit and vegetables
Pet food left outside
Pets and children – yes, they will go after small children if there is no adult around. Scary.
Take away their food source, and their territory will increase. They likely won't go away completely, but you will see less of them in your area.
LINKS TO ALL BLOG POSTS IN THIS SERIES ON URBAN COYOTES
MY BOOKS AND TRAINING
If you like these posts on urban coyotes, please check out my other posts and books which are specifically on dogs and puppies. I have been a dog trainer/behavior consultant for 30 years, was the first trainer to be certified by 5 dog training organizations, and am an award-winning author of 10 books. I offer in-person private training in the Los Angeles area and Zoom training in the Los Angeles area as well as worldwide.
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