Commentary: Keep people and pets safe by keeping wild coyotes wild

Photo by Lee Hamilton

Coyotes become more visible in the fall and winter as young animals search for new territories and vegetative cover becomes less dense. These shy predators make excellent neighbors by keeping rodent populations like rats and mice in check, and are a valuable part of a healthy ecosystem.

Coyotes are wary of people, and avoid us whenever possible. However, in urban areas, people may unintentionally invite coyotes into the human environment by leaving unsecured pet food, garbage or compost outside. Similarly, bird feeders can attract rodents that in turn lure coyotes into the yard where they may also prey on unattended pets. When coyotes lose their fear of people, they can become unpredictable and pose an elevated safety risk.

You can keep a healthy separation between the human environment and the coyotes’ environment by following a few simple steps.

  • Never feed coyotes.
  • Do not leave children unattended.
  • Keep cats and dogs in a secured area or on a leash at all times.
  • Do not leave pet food (or any food) outside.
  • Make sure your garbage cans and compost bins have tight-fitting lids.
  • Keep the area under and around bird feeders clean and free of food.

If you encounter a coyote, pick up your pets and/or small children immediately. Do not run away or turn your back. Instead, you’ll want to appear big and loud, making lots of noise by shouting or clapping to scare it away.  If the coyote looks weak or sick, call animal control at 425-775-3000. If the coyote is acting aggressive toward you, call 911.

For more information on how to co-exist with coyotes and other wildlife, visit the WDFW Living with Wildlife webpages at

— By Jennifer Leach, Environmental Education & Sustainability Coordinator
Edmonds Department of Parks, Recreation, and Culture


2 Replies to “Commentary: Keep people and pets safe by keeping wild coyotes wild”

  1. I put a coyote vest on my dog when going out in the back yard, and also carry an air-horn. I’ve had two in my fenced yard on 9th Ave. N. We have to live with them, so take precautions.


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