Coyotes on the prowl searching for new places to live

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Photo: Warren Metcalf

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Coyotes yip, howl and bark, and there’s a good reason why you may see or hear more of them right now.

Young coyotes born this past spring are now in the process of leaving their parents’ territory to find and establish a territory of their own. 

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According to biologists with the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, there’s an annual peak of reported sightings in October and November.

These canines are not generally a threat to humans.

Once they’re old enough to survive on their own, young coyotes may wander long distances— upward of 300 miles – before settling down somewhere that’s not already occupied by an established coyote pair.

“Coyotes are now common across North Carolina, and merely hearing or seeing one is no cause for surprise or alarm,” said Falyn Owens, the agency’s extension biologist. “Coyotes rarely attack humans, and while they are curious about us, they are also wary and will usually try to avoid people as much as possible.”

“However, if they regularly find food near where people live and experience few consequences for hanging around, coyotes can lose their natural fear of people over time,” Owens said.

Here are some tips to make your homes and neighborhoods less attractive to coyotes:

  • Always supervise small pets when they’re outside, and especially around dawn and dusk
  • Keep cats indoors and poultry in a predator-proof run
  • Feed pets indoors or remove all food when a pet is finished eating outside
  • Store food waste in secure containers with tight-fitting lids
  • Keep birdseed off the ground around feeders, or attract birds with seed-bearing wildflowers in lieu of feeders
  • If you see a coyote around your home and feel safe to do so, scare it off

Because coyotes are opportunistic predators of small animals, cats and small dogs are at risk if left to roam outside without close supervision. Chickens and other poultry should be kept in a secure, predator-proof run.

Coyotes can be hunted year-round and can be trapped during the statewide regulated trapping season (Nov. 1 through end of February). For more information about coyotes in North Carolina, visit the Wildlife Commission’s coyote page on its website (ncwildlife.org/coyote), or call the Commission’s N.C. Wildlife Helpline toll-free at 866-318-2401. The call center is open Monday through Friday (excluding holidays) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.