Coyote Mating Season

Mating season has begun for coyotes, so experts recommend being on the lookout for increased coyote activity in the coming weeks. Though this may sound intimidating, there is very little to worry about for the average Seven Lakes resident.

For coyotes, the breeding season usually begins in late December or early January and lasts through the end of February or early March, while the “pupping season” lasts until the end of May. During this time, coyotes may be sighted more often during the day, as they may deviate from their nocturnal schedule to seek a mate or hunt for food for their young.

Additionally, coyotes—particularly male coyotes—become increasingly territorial during mating season, leading to more aggressive behavior. Both male and female coyotes may display aggressive behavior to ward off potential predators who have wandered too close to their den.

During this time, it is important to keep a close eye on your pets. Experts advise keeping dogs on a leash and not allowing pets outside unsupervised. Small dogs and cats are easy prey for coyotes, and though large dogs usually survive coyote encounters, coyotes may instigate fights with large dogs due to increased defensiveness during mating season.

If you encounter a coyote and simply retreating is not an option, researchers suggest making noise and making yourself as large as possible to scare it away. Cans of rocks, loud whistles, and shouting or yelling is usually enough to send a coyote on its way.

For responsible pet owners, coyotes provide little risk. In fact, coyotes are in integral part of pest control here in the sandhills. In their natural habitat, coyotes typically dine on moles, voles, rabbits, and even larger pests such as raccoons and opossums.

“Attacks on humans are extremely rare considering the range and abundance of coyotes,” reports the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. “A study published in 2007 found only 187 reliable reports of attacks on humans, most of which (157) occurred in California, Arizona and Nevada. Many of these incidents occurred where people were feeding coyotes intentionally, causing them to lose their fear of humans.”

Researchers recommend simply giving coyotes space and respecting nature during the upcoming breeding season. Take care of your pets, be aware of your surroundings, and feel free to contact animal control if you feel a pet or human is potentially in danger.