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Be a Friend to Coyotes

Find information about living with coyotes.

The Species: Stand up for the Underdogs in Our City!

Coyotes are at home in New Mexico, including in Albuquerque. They have lived here much longer than humans and have adapted to life in the city.

Despite being closely related to domestic dogs, coyotes are much maligned, wherever they go. Encounters with humans often end fatal for coyotes. Until recently, coyotes were subject to mass killing contests in our state. Coyote killing contests were made illegal in 2019.

Yet coyotes pose hardly any threat to people and it’s not difficult to share our city with urban coyotes. There has not been a single known case of a coyote biting a human in Albuquerque over the past 15 years.

See the Coyote Fact Sheet!

Did You Know?

With their thick fur, coyotes appear larger than they actually are, weighing in at 20 to 40 pounds. Underneath their fluffy coat, coyotes have a delicate bone structure that resembles greyhounds. So does their speed: coyotes can run up to 40 mph.

Coyotes live in close-knit family groups of a mother, father, and their pups. The family will defend their territory against other coyotes. This creates a natural deterrent to there being too many coyotes in a given area. If you are lucky enough to hear their howls, know it is likely the family talking to each other across the landscape and letting others know this is their home.

Coyotes play an important role in maintaining a balanced ecosystem, even in the city. They are pragmatic omnivores who will eat almost anything, but rodents are their primary prey, especially rabbits, voles, and mice. A single coyote can consume well over 1000 rodents in a year.

Coyote Puppy Season

Coyotes are monogamous and typically stay with their partner for life. After mating in early spring, a coyote pair builds a den for their family. Two months later, the mother coyote gives birth to an average of two to six pups, many of which will not survive their first year. Coyote litter sizes adjust to their environment: more pups are born when hunting is abundant and less pups when hunting is scarce. Pups emerge from the den a couple of weeks after birth and remain with their parents for up to nine months. Once fully grown, some young adults may stay with the pack while others will disperse and join other youngsters to form new packs.

The Challenges: Coyote Encounters

Coyotes are timid animals and will try to avoid people. While you may spot coyotes in the distance, close-up encounters and conflicts are uncommon, but they sometimes happen.

There are two times of year when human/coyote conflicts increase:

  • April through early July: puppy season when parents will protect their dens and their pups.
  • Late November through February: food is scarce so coyotes have to get more creative to survive, and young coyotes are dispersing to establish new territories.

When You May Encounter Coyotes

  • Coyote parents are protective of their den sites, particularly during pup rearing in the spring and when pups first emerge from dens in the early summer. Unsupervised dogs may provoke conflicts if they approach dens or coyote pups.
  • Coyotes may be attracted to food sources in our neighborhoods and yards, including rodents, chickens, garbage, compost, pet food, and garden fruit and vegetables.
  • Coyotes may perceive small dogs and cats as prey, especially at night.
  • You’re most likely to see coyotes at dusk and dawn. Look out for them on your morning or evening walk. They are nocturnal, hunting at night, but sometimes come out during the day.

When Coyotes Get Harmed By Us

  • Coyotes’ natural diet may be poisoned: the rodents, insects, and fruit they eat may contain toxins due to our use of rodenticides (rat poison) and pesticides. These toxins can accumulate in a coyote’s body and cause health problems, even death.
  • Coyotes that get used to human food sources or come too close to domestic animals are at risk of getting killed for public safety reasons.
  • Intentional feeding of coyotes makes them lose their natural fear of humans and can lead to persistent and even aggressive behaviors that can cost coyotes their lives.

Living safely and comfortably with coyotes is not difficult. We can benefit from the free and healthy rodent control that coyotes provide if we help them stay wild and wary.

ACTION TIPS: Be a Friend ❤ to Coyotes! What You Can Do

The words Tip #1

Keep Coyotes Wild – Scare Them Away if They Come too Close

Keep your distance from coyotes and help them stay away from you, your house and yard. Coyotes are naturally very shy and will do everything possible to avoid encounters with people. But they can get used to human interaction, and we must prevent that.

Hazing is an effective way to scare a coyote away, without harassing or harming the animal.

  • Haze if a coyote approaches you, or if you see a coyote walking your street or visiting yards.
  • Be big, bold, and loud. Make eye contact and stand your ground. Wave your arms, a stick or jacket over your head, jump up and down, and yell. The coyote should see you as something to be afraid of.
  • Use tools that scare with sound, light, or motion (use a whistle, bang on pots, wave a flashlight). Change it up if you see a coyote regularly, so that they don’t get used to it.
  • Be consistent and persistent: haze every time you see a coyote that’s too close. Do not stop until the coyote has left the area (make sure the animal is not cornered).

When not to haze:

  • Don’t haze if you see a coyote at a comfortable distance. Coyotes are at home in our city and no cause for alarm.
  • Don’t haze if the coyote appears sick or injured (call the city instead) or if you’re in an open space and near coyote dens. If a coyote is trying to protect its den (by vocalizing or acting assertive), calmly leave the area (don’t run).

The words Tip #2

Keep Your Pets Safe

Coyotes may see small pets as potential prey. Coyotes and dogs may also transmit diseases to each other, so they should not mingle.

  • Leash your dog when walking or hiking. Pick up small dogs if a coyote approaches.
  • Never let your dog interact with a coyote.
  • Do not let your dog chase a coyote. The frightened coyote will run to their family for help.
  • Don’t feed pets outside. Pet food can attract both rodents and coyotes.
  • Bring your dog in at night.
  • Keep your cat indoors, especially at night.

The words Tip #3

Keep Coyotes Safe

Coyotes can become victims of traffic and of poisoning.

  • Drive carefully, especially at night, and look out for wild animals.
  • Don’t use rodenticides around your house, yard, and neighborhood.

The words Tip #4

Make Your Yard Unwelcoming to Coyotes

To keep coyotes wild and away from people and our immediate surroundings, you can make your yard unattractive and unwelcoming to coyotes.

  • Install coyote-proof fencing if you keep pets or chickens in your yard.
  • Install “coyote rollers” on top of your wall or fence to keep coyotes from entering your yard.
  • Use motion activated lights or sprinklers to scare away coyotes.
  • Seal and store garbage and compost securely.

The words Tip 5

Never Feed Coyotes

A coyote habituated to feeding by even one human will start to think of all humans and human spaces as sources of food, leading to increased conflicts that don’t end well for the coyote. Coyotes are very intelligent, adaptable, and resourceful foragers who do not need our help. Keep wildlife wild–never feed coyotes!

Fun Fact

Coyotes can mate with dogs and give birth to “coydogs.” That’s because coyotes (canis latrans) are closely related to domestic dogs (canis familiaris), as well as wolves (canis lupus). In the wild, however, they would likely not interbreed, as they don’t have the same mating cycle: coyotes usually only breed in February and March. Once they’ve found their partner, the pair bonds for a few months before mating. They are typically monogamous and stay together as a pair, within their small pack.

Always remember: to keep your dog safe, don’t let him or her get close to a coyote!

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Be a Friend To Wildlife ❤ ABQ Wildlife Coexistence

Albuquerque is home to over 850 animal species, many of whom roamed these lands long before our city's founding. They are important city residents who help maintain healthy local ecosystems. Always Enjoy Wildlife from a distance.

Be a Friend to Wildlife: Dos & Dont's

Don't feed wildlife (except songbirds)
Don't feed pets outside
Don't leave pet waste
Don't use chemicals or poisons

Do keep your distance
Do seal garbage &compost
Do plant native flowers
Do supervise your pets
Do stay on trails