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Photo by Ryan Brady

furbearers by completing Trapper Education.
wildlife by completing a hunter safety course.
tips to live with and manage nuisance wildlife.
about Wisconsin furbearers.

Coyotes den for an eight week period during the spring.


Urban coyotes are the number one predator on urban geese populations.


When coyotes become habituated to humans, they lose their fear of humans and are often observed during the day.


Prior to European settlement, Southern portions of Wisconsin made up the eastern edge of coyote distribution in North America. Today coyotes are found throughout most of North and Central America, including the entirety of Wisconsin. Agricultural changes on the landscape coupled with an unregulated and often encouraged extermination attitude towards larger predators like wolves and cougars led to the rapid expansion of coyotes. Coyotes can be found living in any habitat type including highly populated cities such as Chicago and New York.

Coyotes typically mate in February and can become aggressive towards subordinates and other canids during this time. In April, coyotes will use dens to rear their young. Coyotes typically only use dens during this rearing period and are territorial around them. Dens consist of but are not limited to ground burrows, tree stumps and rock outcroppings. Although den seclusion from other animals and humans is common, some coyotes will use urban settings with less cover such as underneath decks and patios as their den. Coyotes will generally use these dens for the first 8 weeks of the pups' lives and will leave these den sites in June. Starting in September and through January, young coyotes will begin dispersing from their natal (birth) territory in search of a new territory. Coyotes can travel 100 or more miles in search of a new territory.

Urban coyotes

Two studies of interest are the Cook County Coyote Project [exit DNR] and the UW-Madison Urban Canid Project [exit DNR]. Both of these studies observe urban coyotes, their behaviors and habitat selection. Because of an abundance of food, water and shelter, coyotes thrive in urban environments. If you are interested in learning more about coyotes in urban environments, please visit the projects' websites.

Secretive by nature, coyotes in urban settings are most often seen at night, although daytime sightings are not uncommon. Coyotes will alter their hunting strategy in urban environments to lessen the chances of interactions with people. Any coyote that acts habituated to people should be treated with caution. Coyote attacks on people are extremely rare but pets may be an easy target.

Coyotes are opportunistic predators and will take advantage of any available food source. In urban environments, rodents are of particular importance but carrion, insects, fruits, deer and other small animals are on the menu. Coyotes are one of the primary predators of urban Canada geese and help support a more balanced ecosystem in urban environments. Sometimes pets such as small dogs and cats are taken by coyotes. Not feeding pets outdoors and keeping cats and dogs inside or attended will reduce the chance of an incident.

Living with nuisance coyotes

Urban environments provide plenty of natural food sources and it is not necessary to feed wildlife. Coyotes that are often seen daily coming into the same area are usually hanging around for one of two reasons; the coyote has an active den nearby or the coyote has found a reliable food source.

If found coming into the same area outside of the denning season, it is likely coyotes found a reliable food source nearby. This food source could be bird feeders attracting prey species, pet food placed outdoors or the presence of free-roaming pets or livestock. Never intentionally feed coyotes. They have a variety of natural food sources available, and providing food can increase the potential for a negative interaction between coyotes and humans. Complete a yard audit [PDF] to document potential food sources on your property and find areas that could be improved to minimize coyote encounters.

Coyotes are highly adaptable and occasionally individual coyotes can lose their fear of humans (habituation). Coyotes that consistently find food near human dwellings are more likely to become habituated to humans. However accustomed to people, coyotes are wild animals and should be treated as such. Coyotes do sometimes kill pets, especially small dogs and cats that resemble their natural prey. Coyote attacks on people are extremely rare but coyotes may have diseases that they can spread to pets and even people. To minimize coyote visits, remove any possible food sources and initiate a hazing period to make the visits unpleasant. For more information on living with nuisance coyotes, view more urban coyote information [PDF] .


Hazing is when you use scare tactics to deter a wild animal from frequenting any area. How do you initiate a hazing period? Many techniques can be used to haze a coyote [PDF] , but to be successful in instilling fear in coyotes, hazing has to be frequent and consistent. Public Health Madison and Dane County, in collaboration with Dr. David Drake, a researcher for the UW Madison Urban Canid Project, created a hazing video [exit DNR] that demonstrates hazing techniques.


When consistent hazing does not work, removal may be necessary. However, when a coyote is removed from an area it is likely that another coyote will take its place. Only remove those coyotes that appear to be of danger or nuisance to people and pets-not all urban coyotes are nuisance coyotes. To find help removing nuisance coyotes, please visit the Wisconsin Trappers' Association website [exit DNR] for a list of trappers in your area. Animal damage control companies may also be available.

For coyotes, removal can be done in two ways; dispatch the animal or relocate it. When a coyote is relocated, it is placed in unfamiliar territory and will usually try to travel back to its original location. Relocating coyotes is not efficient and is often unsuccessful. Relocated coyotes tend to die shortly after the move due to not knowing the territory they were dropped in and conflicts with the resident coyotes in the new location. Moving wild animals also facilitates disease transmission and is generally ill-advised for common species. It is extremely important to keep our urban coyote population wild and keep the fear of humans instilled in coyotes.


Concerned citizens within the Madison [exit DNR] or Milwaukee [exit DNR] areas can add coyote observations to their local iNaturalist webpage. This information assists researchers and managers in understanding urban coyote behavior and activity within urban areas. Residents can also use this page to avoid areas that consistently have high coyote observations.


Local iNaturalist webpages can help researchers and citizens alike.

Contact information
For information on nuisance coyotes, contact your local wildlife biologist.

Last revised: Friday February 22 2019