Coyotes (Canis latrans) are yellowish gray with bushy black-tipped tails and whitish throats and bellies. They are smaller than wolves — 20 to 40 pounds versus 80 to 100 — with narrower snouts and more prominent ears. They run with their tails hanging down below their backs; dogs and foxes usually run with their tails sticking straight out.
Over 90 percent of a coyote’s diet is small mammals, but it will eat birds, snakes, insects, fish, fruits and vegetables and will feed on what is most available, such as squirrels, voles, mice, rabbits and injured or sick deer.
Coyotes are extremely adaptable and opportunistic, skills that enable them to survive in different habitats, including suburban neighborhoods. They travel along trails, ridges and waterways, defecating or urinating to mark their territories along the way. They are considered nocturnal, but it is normal for them to be active during the day.
While encounters are rare, especially for larger dogs, and many are initiated by the dog and not the coyote, owners should always take a few simple precautions.
- Walk your dog on a leash and keep your dog on a leash even when in your yard. Nearly all dog attacks by coyotes have been on dogs that are off-leash in their yard.
- Never leave dogs unattended in your yard, and always keep them inside at night. Your yard is likely part of a coyote’s territory.
- Keep your yard well-illuminated when outdoors at night with your pet.
- Keep cats indoors.
- Coyotes can be creatures of habit. If you encounter one at the same place and time while walking your pet, change your route or the time that you walk.
- To keep coyotes out of your yard, install 6-foot-high wire-mesh fencing extended at least 6 inches underground. Install a “roller” system at the top so animals cannot pull themselves over.
Read more about teenage coyotes here.
Watch the presentation by District staff below on living with coyotes. To watch on YouTube, click here.
Learn about living with coyotes in DuPage County. Watch "Being Coyote Wise: Living with Urban Coyotes."