Eastern Coyotes Present in Local Rural and Urban areas

eastern coyote

Coyotes are permanent residents in our province. Seeing or hearing coyotes from time to time anywhere in Nova Scotia is not unusual. They have become an important part of the ecosystem as a top-line predator. Nocturnal by nature, coyotes tend to be most active and vocal in the evening and throughout the night. Occasionally they are vocal during the day.

Coyotes are normally shy and fearful of people. When this behavior changes and they lose that fear, there is cause for concern. A coyote's loss of fear of people, called habituation, is nearly always caused by direct or indirect feeding by people or by the frequent presence of non-threatening humans in coyote habitat.

You can take steps to reduce the attractiveness of your property to coyotes and reduce the likelihood of a coyote encounter. Work with your neighbours to follow these steps. Trim trees and ground-level shrubs to reduce hiding places for coyotes and for the animals they prey upon. Store bird feeders indoors at night. Clean up spilled birdseed to avoid attracting rodents, small mammals, and other coyote prey. If you have fruit trees or berries, pick the fruit as soon as it ripens. You may also want to put up fencing to keep coyotes out.

Install motion-sensitive lighting around your yard to discourage coyote visits. Manage compost piles carefully to avoid attracting coyotes. Store garbage in tightly closing, or locking containers, that cannot be opened or tipped over.

Keep your pets safe
Cats and dogs that run free are easy prey. They may actually encourage coyotes to range closer to your property. Safeguard cats, rabbits, and small dogs by keeping them indoors. Larger dogs can be contained by outdoor kennels that are at least six feet high and preferably inset in the ground or in concrete. Never feed pets outdoors and bring dogs indoors after dark. Always walk your dog on a leash.

Fear of a coyote encounter should not stop you from enjoying outdoor recreation in your neighbourhood. Choose walking areas that are open, are well-lit, and have lots of foot traffic. Walk with a friend, use a walking stick, and carry a noisemaker, such as an air horn or whistle.


Fear of a coyote encounter should not stop you from enjoying outdoor recreational activities. Take these steps to reduce your risk of an unwanted encounter with a coyote.

  • Hike with friends.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Use a walking stick and carry a noisemaker such as a bell, a whistle, an air horn, or a personal alarm.
  • Do not feed animals in the woods or along trails.
  • Never discard food in the woods. Coyotes with access to human food or garbage lose their fear of people.
  • Always walk your dog on a leash. If your dog is attacked, never get between your pet and the coyote as the coyote may turn its aggression toward you.
  • If you see a coyote, do not approach it. If a coyote approaches you, don't run; this can cause the coyote to chase you.

Behaviour
• Nocturnal; most active and vocal at night
• High-pitched yelps, barks, and howls
• Normally shy of people

Territory
• Almost anywhere in Nova Scotia; year-round
• Territory ranges from 24 to 48 km² (9 to 18 sq. mi.)

Appearance
• Average size of 15 kg (34 lbs)
• Males can reach more than 23 kg (50 lbs)
• Tawny, grey, or black fur with long black guard hairs; thick fur makes them look large
• Muzzle, throat, legs, and belly colour ranges from yellowish to white

Mating/Raising Young
• Mate from January to March
• Five to seven pups born between April and May

Diet
• Carnivores, but will eat anything available including:
  -small mammals, rodents, and snowshoe hare
  -carrion (decaying carcasses)
  -berries and fallen tree fruit
  -garbage and compost
  -deer, fawns, sheep, and lambs
  -feral and pet cats, dogs
• Usually hunt alone or in pairs, occasionally in small family groups

Are coyotes aggressive?
Coyotes are wild and generally avoid people. However, they should be treated as potentially dangerous. Do not approach a coyote.

What should I do when I encounter a coyote?
-- do not feed, touch, or photograph the animal from close distances;
-- remove self from the area by slowly backing away while remaining calm- do not turn and run;
-- use personal alarm devices to frighten or threaten the animal;
-- encourage the animal to leave (provide space, an escape route);
-- if animal exhibits aggressive behaviour -- then be larger and noisier by throwing sticks and rocks; and
-- fight back aggressively if the animal attacks.

How can people reduce coyote interactions?
Make sure garbage is not left laying around, remove pet food, compost, or garbage from outside your doorstep at night. Do not feed wild animals. Do not leave pets unattended or unprotected outdoors.