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Coyote Mating Season: Things to Know

Coyote. Photo Tom Richardson

Late January through early March is the mating season for coyotes in much of New England, and a time when these pack animals become more active and aggressive. Here are some things to be aware of during the spring mating season.

Food Sources: Coyotes eat small animals, insects, and fruits, as well as garbage, pet food, compost, bird seed, and suet. In other words, pretty much anything. All of the aforementioned items can often attract coyotes to residential neighborhoods and backyards. Over time, the animals may come to associate these areas with food and frequent them more often. They may also become bolder and more aggressive in the presence of humans and pets. The solution is to remove potential food sources before they become a problem. Simple, and you’ll likely also see fewer pests such as raccoons and skunks as a result.

Pets: Dogs should be supervised and kept on a leash. During breeding season, coyotes become more aggressive in defending their territories to protect their pack, and may consider a mid- to large-breed dog to be an intruding coyote. Smaller dogs and cats may be seen as prey items by coyotes at any time of the year. Most coyote attacks on pets involve dogs that are off-leash or loose in a backyard.  

Hazing Techniques:  Coyotes are naturally afraid of humans, but they can lose that fear over time when living in urban or residential areas if they perceive no threat. If you see a coyote in your yard, make loud noises or, if necessary, throw objects to scare it off. Repeated “hazing” of this sort helps teach coyotes that they are not welcome in your yard (i.e., your territory). If the coyote does not flee, stay indoors and contact an animal-control or fish-and-wildlife officer, as the coyote may be suffering from rabies or some other disease.

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