Seeing coyotes, especially during winter, is normal and should not cause alarm.
Coyotes become more active during winter. Young coyotes are leaving their parents to find a new home, making them more visible. In January, coyotes will also be looking to breed, making them even more active. Bare vegetation also increases people’s chances of catching a glimpse.
Where people are, coyotes follow. Coyotes like to eat animals and plants that thrive around yards and homes. Their diet includes rabbits, mice, fruit, and squirrels. They thrive around people because of the abundant food that comes with human development. Coyotes are a common member of Indiana’s urban wildlife community, as are raccoons, red foxes, and opossums.
Seeing a coyote is not necessarily cause for concern. They are common everywhere in the state, even in urban areas like downtown Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, and South Bend. Coyotes are an important part of Indiana’s wildlife community and provide benefits by helping control rodent populations and cleaning up carrion.
Problems between coyotes and people are uncommon. To prevent them, be proactive by removing food and water sources, keeping pets leashed or contained, and trying to scare a coyote when you see it. Follow these quick tips for making your yard less attractive to coyotes:
- Clean up fallen fruit from trees or gardens.
- Keep garbage secure.
- Make sure pet food and treats are not left outside.
- Take down bird feeders if you see a coyote around your yard; they could be attracted to the rodents eating the seeds.
- Never intentionally feed a coyote; it could lose its fear of people.
If you see a coyote, try to make it uncomfortable:
- Wave your arms.
- Spray it with a hose.
- Throw tennis balls or small stones, but don’t throw anything that could be food, like apples.
- Carry a jar of coins or a small air horn to make noise.
Making a coyote feel unwelcome around people can help it maintain its natural fear of humans. Never corner or chase a coyote — they should always have a clear escape path to get away from you. Keep pets leashed, in a kennel with a secure top, or indoors to reduce the possibility of a negative interaction with any wildlife, including coyotes.
Find more information about coyotes, including factsheets and a webinar, at wildlife.IN.gov/5688.htm. Other webinar resources, including tips for maintaining positive interactions with wildlife in general, can be found at on.IN.gov/fishwilded.