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Eastern coyote
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.

Eastern coyotes

Coyotes originated in the western plains of the United States. When European settlers came to the land and extirpated (local extinction of) wolf and other large predator populations, coyotes-uninhibited by their greatest predators-were able to expand their territory. Coyotes are now found living everywhere from the plains to the mountains, deserts to wetlands, prairies to forests, and from rural country sides to large, highly populated cities such as Chicago and New York.

Alpha coyotes typically mate in February and can become aggressive towards subordinates and other canines during this time. In April, coyotes will begin to look for dens in which to rear their young. Coyotes normally only use dens during this rearing period and may become 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, come coyotes will use urban settings with less cover such as underneath decks and patios. Coyotes will generally use these dens for the first 8 weeks of the pups' lives and will leave these den sites to travel their territory in search of food from June to August. 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 eastern coyotes

Two studies that are referenced here 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. Urban coyotes, unlike their rural relatives, live in metropolitan areas such as cities and suburbs. Because of the abundant availability 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. In their natural environments, coyotes are diurnal and crepuscular hunters-meaning they hunt in the daytime and during dawn and dusk. Studies show that coyotes in urban settings have strategized to hunt at night when the possibility of human interactions is much lower, therefore still being their secretive selves.

The diet of the urban coyote has changed as well. Coyotes in rural environments rely on deer carrion and rabbits for their top sources of food, with other small mammals and birds trailing behind. During the summer, they feed heavily on fruits and other vegetation. Urban coyotes feed heavily on rodents, with deer carrion, fawns and smaller mammals serving as their secondary food sources. Other studies have shown that the number one predator on urban goose populations is the coyote. High populations of deer and geese in urban settings can negatively impact the ecosystem. Coyotes provide a balance for these species and are an important component within our urban ecosystems.

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 can be from the presence of bird feeders or other wildlife feeding platforms that create hunting grounds for coyotes. Birds, squirrels, chipmunks, mice and other prey species frequent bird feeders and make an excellent buffet for coyotes. 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.

Because the coyote is a smart, highly adaptable animal that has lived beside man for hundreds of years, it is no surprise that some individual coyotes lose their fear of humans (habituation). Coyotes that consistently find food near human dwellings are more likely to become habituated to humans as they are frequently in close proximity to them. However accustomed to people, coyotes are wild animals and should be treated as such. To minimize coyote visits, remove the food source for a few weeks 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 and frequent 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.

Eastern coyote

Local iNaturalist webpages can help researchers and citizens alike.

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 car collisions, hunting or depredation from other local coyote packs or predators. It is extremely important to keep our urban coyote population wild and keep the fear of humans instilled in coyotes to minimize relocation or dispatch.


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.

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

Last revised: Friday February 24 2017