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Love Connections Abound with the Onset of Coyote Breeding Season

Coyote 1 9 Crop

Love is in the air! For coyotes, at least.

January through March is breeding season for this monogamous canine. Coyotes rely heavily on their mates for survival and form strong social bonds with each other. These pairs are profoundly family-oriented and will typically breed year after year with one another, creating and strengthening their pack. However, as a monoestrous species, they are limited to one single litter per year. A coyote’s gestation period is about 62 days, meaning all pups are born in April or May just as the first signs of spring begin to touch the landscape.

While this is an exciting season for coyotes, it is often a confusing one for their neighboring humans. Unfortunately, there is an abundance of misinformation about coyote behavior during breeding season. Warnings of coyotes’ increase in aggressive behavior during this time of year abound, but is their behavioral change significant enough to warrant such fear and derision? That’s hard to say.

The New York State DEC found that between May 2005 to January 2014, incident reports in New York appeared to peak between May – August. This coincides with when coyotes are actively raising their young pups, as well as when humans are more active outdoors thus making the likelihood that they encounter wildlife higher than at other times of the year. It is worth noting that the vast majority of these incident reports were categorized as Class 4, which indicates “a coyote has been observed in an area but is exhibiting normal, natural behaviors.”

Credit: New York Department of Environmental Conservation

So what is the real potential for conflict? According to the Humane Society of the U.S., people are more likely to be killed by champagne corks or errant golf balls than they are to be bitten by coyotes. This doesn’t mean that conflict doesn’t occur at all, but rather that it is far less likely than one might think.

The fact is, it’s always wise to be alert to potential hazards around you. Regardless of the season, these are the important pointers to remember in order to coexist with coyotes:

  • Supervise your pets when outdoors and keep them close to you, ideally leashed particularly in accordance with local leash laws.
  • Do not feed coyotes and be sure to remove attractants (such as spilled bird seed, garbage/compost, and pet food).
  • Haze coyotes to frighten them away from you, your house, and your yard. They are naturally wary of humans, but might unlearn that fear if we do not remind them. Hazing is using loud noises and exaggerated movements to discourage coyotes from approaching.

It’s important to remember to implement these strategies all year round, not just during coyote breeding season. Check out the Wolf Conservation Center’s Digital Coexistence Kit for more tips, and share to help spread the message of coexistence!