Living With Wildlife: What Do You Really Know About Coyotes?

What Do You Really Know About Coyotes?

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The coyote can be found in almost every type of environment in Santa Barbara County. They are dog-like in appearance, weighing an average of 25-40 pounds. Their coat can be gray or cinnamon. They have very long, thin legs, very pointed and erect ears, and long, bushy tails that are tipped with black and held low when running.coyote 1

Coyotes are basically nocturnal, but during cooler seasons may be seen hunting during daylight hours. Coyotes are highly intelligent opportunistic feeders and are often attracted to urban areas by uncovered garbage cans and pet food. Their natural diet is varied and includes rodents, rabbits, gophers, birds, insects and fruit. They will occasionally prey upon small domestic pets, especially cats.coyote 2

Coyotes mate for life and can produce litters of up to six pups, however only an average of three pups will survive. They live in loose packs with the young remaining with the parents about six months. Coyotes are not generally territorial and will move about as food and shelter dictates.

They communicate by using different vocalizations. The yipping of coyote pups in the spring has become a common sound even to city dwellers.coyote3

The natural habitat that once supported the coyote is rapidly disappearing to accommodate urban expansion. They have shown remarkable adaptability by tailoring their behavior to include all the opportunities urban areas provide, including easy access to food, water, and shelter.


  • Do not approach it, or try to befriend it.
    Bring small children and pets indoors at dusk.
  • Make sure the coyote has an escape route by opening gates
  •  Make loud noises
  • Spray the coyote with water using a powerful nozzle on your hose


Once wild animals have lost their fear of humans through unnecessary interaction, they can become   aggressive.

Encourage coyotes and other wildlife to remain wary and wild!

As with many wild animals, if left alone, the coyote population will regulate itself. If coyotes in a certain area are removed, remaining individuals will fill the area, either with larger litters, or by allowing outsider coyotes to move into  the vacated area creating an even greater problem. Eradication is ineffective.

We should respect the coyote’s tenacity, admire its wildness, and salute its curiosity and playfulness as well as recognizing its potential threat resulting when humans are careless. . . .


  • Use a leash to take small dogs out in the evening. Put all cats and small dogs inside the house or garage at night. Coyotes have been known to take domestic pets right out of their yards.
  • Feed pets indoors or promptly remove dishes when pets have eaten their meal, cleaning up any food that  has been dropped. Pet food attracts wildlife.
  • Always store pet food indoors. Coyotes and raccoons have an incredible sense of smell and can get into the toughest containers.
  • Make sure rabbit cages, chicken coops and other small animal cages are well secured, particularly on the bottoms. Rabbits are defenseless against wild animals.
  • If you have bird feeders be sure you purchase the type that has a catch pan underneath to prevent attracting rodents (and therefore coyotes) to your yard
    Pick up fruit that has fallen from trees so that you are not intentionally attracting wildlife to your property.
  • Secure covered trash containers to the garage or fence with removable cords to prevent tipping. Do not store trash in bins or plastic bags. Put trash out the morning of pick-up day to prevent it being rummaged  through during the night.
  • If possible, fence your yard with a 6 foot tall fence to prevent coyotes from entering. Keep the brush  around your house cut down close; keep the yard clean so it doesn’t provide cover for rabbits, rats, mice, or squirrels, giving the coyote reason to hunt.


  • Always be aware of your surroundings
  • Do not carry food in your hands when walking
  • If approached by any large wild animal do not turn your back. DO NOT RUN. Pick-up and hold children  and small pets.  Make loud noises. Avoid eye contact and do not advance on the animal. Calmly back away.


Homeowners should make every effort to implement the advice outlined above before any trapping is considered.  Animals trapped by public trappers are not relocated, they are destroyed.


iconFor additional information or further assistance, contact:
W.I.L.D.E. Service (Wildlife Information, Literature, Data & Education Service)
(805) 687-9980 (messages)

icon2Santa Barbara Wildlife Care Network
For help with distressed or orphaned wildlife


For wildlife emergencies (sick or injured animals) contact:
Santa Barbara County Animal Services
(805) 681-5285 (Santa Barbara) (805) 737-7755 (Lompoc) (805) 934-6119 (Santa Maria)

Or, within the City limits
Santa Barbara City Animal Control
(805) 963-1513

in Wildlife

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