Tips for Preventing Conflicts with Coyotes

Coyote Photo credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Coyotes are common throughout North America, including in urban areas, and have been regularly observed throughout Cambridge. They can thrive close to humans in a variety of habitats. Make your property less attractive to coyotes by following these tips: 

Never Feed Coyotes
Keep wildlife wild! Never deliberately provide food for coyotes to attract them to your property. Feeding, whether direct or indirect, can cause coyotes to act tame and may lead to bold behavior. Coyotes that rely on natural foods remain wild and wary of humans. Remember to share these tips with your neighbors; your efforts will be futile if neighbors provide food or shelter or fail to act boldly towards coyotes.

Secure Your Garbage
Coyotes raid open trash materials and compost piles. Secure your garbage in tough plastic containers with tight fitting lids and keep them in secure buildings when possible. Keep compost in secure, vented containers, and keep barbecue grills clean to reduce attractive odors.

Keep Bird Feeder Areas Clean
Use feeders designed to keep seed off the ground and clean spilled seed daily, as bird seed attracts many small mammals coyotes prey upon. Remove feeders if coyotes are regularly seen around your yard.

Clear Fallen Fruit around Fruit Trees  

Protecting Pets from Coyotes
Although free roaming pets are more likely to be killed by automobiles than by wild animals, coyotes do view cats and small dogs as potential food, and larger dogs as competition. For the safety of your pets, keep them leashed and under your supervision at all times. Also remember to feed your pets indoors to avoid attracting wildlife.

Close off Crawl Spaces
Coyotes will use areas under porches and sheds for resting and raising young. Close these areas off to prevent animals from using them.

Habituated coyotes
The presence of a coyote alone is not cause for concern, as coyotes are naturally afraid of people. Help keep coyotes wild by scaring or threatening coyotes in your yard with loud noises, bright lights, or water sprayed from a hose. Coyotes that have become dependent on human-associated food can become habituated and exhibit bold behavior toward people. A habituated coyote:

  • Does not run off when harassed or chased.
  • Approaches pets on a leash.
  • Approaches and follows people.

Below are additional key facts about coyotes and helpful tips if you encounter one:

  • Coyotes are members of the dog family; they are curious, adaptable, and learn quickly.
  • Coyotes often mate for life, are devoted parents, and are highly communicative (barks, yips, howls).
  • Coyotes in the East coast weigh 30-60 pounds.
  • Coyotes may be more protective of dens/territories during pup rearing (April-Aug).
  • Coyotes eat large numbers of rodents and rabbits, as well as fruit, vegetation, insects and carrion. They help keep ecosystems vital, healthy and clean.
  • Coyotes are naturally wary of people but can habituate to our presence and the reliable food sources that we provide.
  • DON’T FEED COYOTES. Their life and your safety depend on coyotes remaining wild and naturally wary of people.
  • Remove attractants; pick up trash, secure garbage, and feed pets inside. Don’t leave food or pets outside at night.
  • Walk dogs on leashes, especially during pup rearing season (April-Aug). Pick up your small dog if you see a coyote and don’t let pets roam. 
  • If approached, don’t run. Wave arms make noise and walk toward the coyote until he retreats. Be “Big, Bad and Loud.”
  • Avoid areas where coyotes may be denning or feeding/hiding pups.
  • Appreciate coyotes from a distance. Share this information with family and friends.

Download Living with Coyotes Fact Sheet (PDF)

Coyote Photo Credit: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

If an immediate threat to human safety exists, the Environmental Police (1-800-632-8075), MassWildlife (, and police departments have the authority to respond to and dispatch the animal as stipulated in the Code of Massachusetts Regulations (CMR) 2.14 that pertain to handling problem animals. This includes animals exhibiting clear signs of rabies. If possible, MassWildlife (1-508-389-6300) should first be contacted to authorize the lethal taking of a coyote. 

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Page was posted on 12/14/2020 10:46 AM
Page was last modified on 4/28/2021 10:35 AM
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