Living with Coyotes

Coyotes are the ultimate survivors.

Humans have altered the landscape in southern Ontario but coyotes have adapted and now thrive. They were originally a western species that spread east as forests were cleared for agriculture. They are highly intelligent and they are generalists, meaning they can adapt to a wide variety of habitats and food sources, including deer carrion, rabbits and other small mammals, birds, fruits and berries, garbage and birdseed.

Coyotes are common in rural and urban areas of the Credit River watershed. Sightings usually occur dawn and dusk, when they are most active. Daytime coyote sightings may be more frequent during their winter breeding season, happening right now (Jan.-Mar.).

Coyotes can live close to urban settlements in ravines, forests, along streams and in railway and utility corridors. They generally don’t pose a threat to human safety and they provide a very important pest control function, since small rodents make up most of their diet. Occasionally coyotes have conflicts with humans. Coyotes may prey on livestock and smaller pets such as cats and dogs. Coyotes may also be attracted to food sources including garbage, compost and even bird feeders that attract their prey (birds, squirrels and raccoons).

Like most animals, coyotes usually have a natural fear of people, but they also possess natural intelligence and can get used to life in residential areas if they have easy access to food. It’s important that coyotes don’t become too comfortable around people and associate humans settlements with food.

Identifying coyotes

  • Coyotes range from blondes to reds and browns.
  • They are the size of a medium sized dog, weighing 15-18 kg (35-45 lbs.), but their thick fur makes them look larger.
  • Their eyes are yellow and ears are wide, pointed and erect.
  • They communicate with a complex vocal system consisting of short barks and a long, wavering yodels.
  • They have excellent hearing and vision.

Precautions to avoid conflicts with coyotes

  • Accompany pets outdoors after dusk and keep them on a leash.
  • Bring livestock into barns at night and use livestock guardian animals.
  • Never feed coyotes. Feeding coyotes lowers their natural fear of humans and increases their chance of having conflicts with humans.
  • Keep garbage and compost in an inaccessible area.
  • Never approach coyotes.

CVC’s conservation areas are natural areas. Coyotes can be present and encounters can potentially occur. When visiting our conservation areas with your pets, remember to keep them on a leash of 1.8 m (6′) or less at all times. Be aware of your surroundings when enjoying the outdoors.

More information on coyotes.

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