Living with Coyotes
Eastern coyotes were first documented in Connecticut in the 1950s. Since then, they have expanded their range and are now common throughout the state. Coyotes are opportunistic and use a variety of habitats, including developed areas like wooded suburbs, parks, beach fronts, and office parks. Their ability to survive and take advantage of food sources found in and around these “man-made” habitats has resulted in an increase in coyote sightings and related conflicts. A coyote’s diet consists predominantly of mice, woodchucks, squirrels, rabbits, turkeys, deer, some fruits, carrion, and when available, garbage. Coyotes will also prey on small livestock and poultry, and reports of coyotes attacking and sometimes killing pets have continued over the last decade. Unsupervised pets, particularly outdoor cats and dogs, can be vulnerable to coyote attacks. Unfortunately, many pet owners remain unaware or become complacent of the potential presence of coyotes and the threat they pose, only to learn the hard way after letting their pet outside at night or in the early morning, resulting in an attack causing serious injuries or death.
Residents who report coyote conflicts often contact their town Animal Control Division to request assistance and frequently are told the town cannot assist and to contact the DEEP Wildlife Division. Those who contact the Division about coyote conflicts are informed that DEEP does not remove coyotes except in emergencies, but the department documents reported coyote conflicts and provides control information, as well as referrals to licensed Nuisance Wildlife Control Operators (NWCOs) for possible on-site assistance. The Wildlife Division may issue a special permit to a NWCO working for the landowner or municipality to trap and euthanize coyotes responsible for serious damages or public health and safety threats. The Division routinely works with town officials, sharing coyote complaint information and control recommendations. Town Animal Control Officers play an important role in educating residents about threats posed by coyotes, as well as providing information on rabies and pet vaccination status to ensure public safety.
As coyotes have become more common and occasionally prey on or attack pets, public concerns about coyotes attacking people, especially children, have increased. Although some coyotes may exhibit bold behavior near people, the risk of a coyote attacking a person is low. This risk can increase if coyotes are intentionally fed and then learn to associate people with food, or if a person is walking with a dog, especially one that is not leashed, near a coyote den or territory during the denning and pup rearing seasons. Coyotes mate in late January into February, with den preparation and selection during March and actual denning and whelping of 5 to 7 pups in April. Coyotes are known to become more aggressive around these core areas, which they vigorously defend against resident dogs while also exhibiting increasingly bold behavior around people. Territorial coyotes may aggressively approach and threaten or attack dogs of all sizes, not just small dogs weighing less than 25 lbs. These denning coyotes are suspected to be the ones reported stalking dog walkers and, in rare cases, attacking leashed dogs or biting people trying to protect their dogs.
Follow the tips below to increase the safety of pets and livestock, enhance human safety, and learn how to coexist with coyotes:
- DO NOT allow pets to run free! Keep cats indoors, particularly at night, and dogs on a leash or under close supervision at all times. The installation of a kennel or coyote-proof fencing is a long-term solution for protecting pets. A variety of livestock fencing and small animal pen designs can protect farm animals. An invisible electric fence is not effective in protecting dogs from coyote attacks.
- NEVER feed coyotes! DO NOT place food out for any mammals. Clean up bird seed below feeders, pet foods, and fallen fruit. Secure garbage and compost in animal-proof containers.
- ALWAYS walk dogs on a leash. If approached by a coyote while walking your dog, keep the dog under control and calmly leave the area. DO NOT run or turn your back. Coyotes are territorial and many reports of bold coyotes visiting yards, howling, or threatening larger dogs can often be attributed to this territorial behavior.
- Attempt to frighten away coyotes by making loud noises (e.g., shouting, air horn) and acting aggressively (e.g., waving your arms, throwing sticks, spraying with a hose).
- Be aware of any coyote behaving abnormally or exhibiting unusually bold behavior (e.g., approaching people for food, attacking leashed pets that are with their owners, stalking children, chasing joggers or bikers, etc.) and report these incidents to authorities immediately.
- Be aware of and report any coyotes exhibiting behavior indicative of rabies, such as staggering, seizures, and extreme lethargy. Daytime activity is not uncommon and does not necessarily indicate rabies.
- Teach children to recognize coyotes and to go inside the house (do not run) or climb up on a swing or deck and yell if they are approached.
- Prevent coyotes from denning in close proximity to homes and yards with pets and children. Identify potential den sites in March when snow tracking can easily reveal natural dug burrows, rock crevices, hollow tree trunk cavities, and crawl spaces under sheds or even decks – especially on unoccupied homes or cottages. Such dens should be inspected and any occupants evicted prior to denning in April. Said dens should be filled in and or collapsed and those suspected under buildings, porches, and sheds excluded by animal proofing with sturdy hardware cloth.
- Educate your neighbors. Ask them to follow these same steps.
- Regulated hunting and trapping may be used to remove problem coyotes in areas where it is safe and legal to do so.
- The DEEP does not remove problem coyotes but may issue a permit to landowners or municipalities to employ a licensed Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator, who is qualified in advanced trapping, to target coyotes that have attacked supervised pets or penned farm animals; are diseased; or have threatened public health and safety.
- Contact the DEEP Wildlife Division at 860-424-3011 for more information on coyotes or other wildlife problems.
To report coyote problems and for control information:
Local Animal Control Division
DEEP Wildlife Division: 860-424-3011
To report animals that are behaving abnormally or are posing an immediate public threat:
Local Police Department
DEEP Emergency Dispatch Office (24 hrs.): 860-424-3333
A DEEP Special Trapping Permit may be issued to a qualified NWCO, hired by the landowner or municipality, to target problem foxes or coyotes responsible for damages or real public health or safety threats. Affected landowners or municipalities must fill out and submit to the Wildlife Division an Application to Trap Foxes or Coyotes Causing Severe Damage or Public Safety Threat (Word Form; PDF).
Learn more about the coyote from our Coyote Fact Sheet .
Do you need additional help and advice concerning nuisance wildlife? Check out www.wildlifehelp.org and select "Connecticut" as your state to get started. WildlifeHelp.org is supported by the Northeast Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and the Northeast Wildlife Damage Management Cooperative.
Content last updated on March 18, 2021.