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Coyotes - What You Should Know

5/10/2005

Coyotes occur naturally throughout the state and have survived very well with the encroachment of people.   They are opportunistic hunters who are typically more active between dusk and dawn.   They can be found in most every natural habitat, suburban and urban area including Irvine.   Here’s what you should know about these amazing animals:

Description

In form and dimensions, coyotes resemble medium-sized domestic shepherd type dogs.   They are typically a blackish gray color with tan to brown legs and a lighter underbelly.   Females are slightly smaller than males with adults averaging 35-40 pounds.   Coyotes have a long pointed nose with large ears and a bushy tail.   

Habitat

Coyotes live in many different habitats, including forests, grasslands, deserts, brush lands and mountains.   They can be found throughout most of the continental United States, Central America, Canada and Alaska.   They are tolerant and able to adjust to people and can be seen most suburban and urban areas.

Diet

Rodents, rabbits, fruit, insects and carrion make up the majority of the coyotes diet.   However, they are opportunistic hunters and will not hesitate to prey on domestic livestock, cats and small dogs when left unattended.

Breeding

Coyotes usually breed in February and March giving birth in April and May.   The average litter contains six pups.   The young are born in a den and first emerge at about three weeks of age.   Weaning occurs by about two months of age.

Classification

The California Fish & Game Code classifies coyotes as a non-game mammal.   

COYOTE DO’S & DONT’S

Do’s 

  • Consider making your dog or cat an indoor pet.
  • Always walk your dog on a leash, preferably between dawn and dusk.
  • Consider walking with friends or in a group, especially with small dogs.
  • Walk in well-lit open areas were coyotes couldn’t hide.
    Consider carrying a cell phone, pepper spray and/or a stick.
  • Feed your pets indoors.
  • Store trash in heavy containers with tight lids.
  • Keep yards free of potential hiding places such as thick brush and weeds.
  • Pick fruit from trees as they ripen and remove all fallen fruit from your yard.
  • Enclose the bottom of porches and decks.
  • You may wish to consider motion activated lights and sprinklers.
  • Insure that your perimeter fencing is in a good state of repair.
  • Keep small pets in an enclosed run with a top when outside and unattended.
  • Report encounters with coyotes that are acting unusual, injured or aggressive.       

Don’ts

  • Don’t feed wild animals.
  • Don’t feed pets outdoors.   If you do, remove the uneaten portion.
  • Don’t allow your pets to roam free on their own.
  • Don’t attempt to pet wild animals. 
  • Don’t allow standing water to remain.
  • Don’t hesitate to contact our Animal Services team if needed at (949) 724-7092.

Learning about these fascinating creatures will increase our chances to peacefully coexist with them.   To report unusual encounters with coyotes, especially with those that are injured, aggressive or who have bitten, please don’t hesitated to contact the Irvine Police Department’s Animal Services team at (949) 724-7092.