Tips for living with coyotes

Coyotes (Canis latrans) are present across nearly all of Washington state, from the shrubsteppe to the alpine, as well as many urban and suburban areas. They are common in many larger, wooded green spaces and parks within cities including Seattle and Spokane.

You may hear coyotes more frequently than you see them, especially when they have pups. Juvenile coyotes are often heard in summer, trying out their voices. Coyote sightings often increase in winter when they are more active, or in late-winter and spring when they may have dens and pups to care for.

A coyote in a suburban area. Photo: New Jersey Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Coyotes are most active at night and during the early-morning and evening hours. Their diet is diverse and adaptable to what’s around, including everything from rabbits and small rodents to garbage, birdseed, and fruit from trees.

Coyotes can also benefit humans and ecosystems by helping control populations of mice, rats, voles, moles, and rabbits.

Urban coyotes are a good reminder to keep a close eye on children, chickens and other domestic animals, and small pets or to keep them inside or in an outbuilding if unsupervised. Visit our coyote webpage or keep reading for tips to avoid conflicts with coyotes.

A coyote with a longer winter coat. Photo by Kelly Ezell.

To minimize the risk, keep cats inside, keep dogs leashed, avoid early morning and late evening walks with your pet in areas where coyotes are known to be, and generally keep an eye on children and pets.

Never run away from a coyote! Make loud noises, wave sticks, squirt it with a hose, or otherwise “haze” the coyote if it approaches. Stand tall, stare into the eyes of the coyote and shout at it. You also can throw something at it.

Reports of coyotes in the city or suburban areas can be sent to community science programs such as Woodland Park Zoo’s carnivorespotter.org/urban-carnivore-spotter/. More info is available at zoo.org/seattlecarnivores. inaturalist.org/ is another popular site for reporting wildlife sightings.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) asks not to receive reports of coyotes going about their normal business, as this is a common species and we prioritize reports of species of greatest conservation need.

If residents witness a coyote attack on supervised pets (such as leashed dogs) or backyard chickens and other fowl, wildlife violation, or an injured or dangerous animal, we encourage them to report it to WDFW Police officers by calling 360–902–2936, emailing WILDCOMM@dfw.wa.gov, or by reporting online at: wdfw.wa.gov/about/enforcement/report.

In the event of an immediate public safety issue or attack on a person, call 911. If necessary, ask the dispatcher to connect you with Washington Fish and Wildlife Police.

Due to WDFW’s need to focus on fish and wildlife species of conservation concern, in most cases when coyote management is required in urban or suburban areas that management is contracted by the city, town or private landowners to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Wildlife Services: aphis.usda.gov/wildlife-state-offices.

More information on living with coyotes is available at: wdfw.wa.gov/species-habitats/species/canis-latrans#conflict

A coyote pup. Photo by David Linn.

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.