Shelter-in-Place: More Coyotes Taking To The Streets?

I see this coyote regularly walking the streets between his two parks when few people are out to see him. But with “shelter-in-place” more people were out in their neighborhoods where they could see him. He reacted, as can be seen in photo below.

People have been asking me if I’ve been seeing more coyotes on the streets during this shelter-in-place time — there was a write-up about it in our local rag. The answer is no, I have not. The coyotes that I myself routinely observe are NOT out more in the streets than usual. In fact, with pupping season approaching within weeks, most of my regular coyotes are hunkered down very close to home and waiting for the big event. Pregnant females generally tend to be much more careful and elusive during this vulnerable time in their lives — I’m seeing them less frequently than normally, and certainly not in the streets.

It could be that some of the remaining youngsters who have not yet dispersed have been wandering a little further afield, including in the streets, a few even dispersing, but the numbers would not be significantly different from any other year.

When pups are born in a few weeks, if resources are scarce in the family’s immediate and usual hunting areas, they’ll travel out further, including through the streets and neighborhoods where you might see them, but this is part and parcel of their yearly cycle — it is not caused by humans vacating the streets while sheltering-in-place.

If a few humans feel they are seeing more coyotes on the streets during this shelter-in-place — and by the way, some of the photos in the article were taken in parks where we see coyotes regularly and not the streets — it’s probably because these humans themselves are more out around in their neighborhoods and therefore are there to see them. I’ve seen many more people out in their communities than usual these last few days.

And yes, some coyotes on their normal routes which do include streets, will experiment with ‘shortcuts’ and new routes, where some people would then be seeing them where they normally don’t. I’ve actually seen the opposite effect in a couple of parks and neighborhoods in San Francisco where human outdoor activity has suddenly picked up because people need their exercise: here, I and some other observers have been seeing coyotes on the streets much less than previously. This, again, is probably more properly due to the upcoming pupping season.

Anxiety because of being watched caused this coyote to dump right then and there — so even more people saw him

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. renee
    Apr 01, 2020 @ 11:54:59

    Um, i get the feeling that you are fairly protective toward the coyotes. I love nature, but also don’t want to get attacked and killed. I’m in the Hudsonvalley, near New windsor, ny. I’m in the woods all the time. I saw a juvenile coyote about 8 in the morning, he was on an intersecting path with mine (in the woods) so i raised my hiking stick and yelled very loud and did a bluff charge. Problem solved. He high tailed it outta there. Very soon after this, same wooded area, i’m walking alone and i see what i take to be an adult mated pair making a large circle around me. Somewhat away from them, i heard yipping and barking. Is it possible that pups have come early ? I’m sure that any frightened parents would be aggressive about their pups, so i wisely changed course and left the area calmly. Here’s the thing, i AM seeing coyotes more than ever — for whatever reason — how do I prevent anything serious from happening ? I do not skew my feelings one way or the other, i keep up with the news. When the lady in nova scotia was bitten to death by three coyotes (she was walking in the woods alone) — i paid attention, you bet. A toddler was also killed; these things CAN happen and i would like to know, as a lone hiker (possible food to them ?) how to keep myself safe. I actually bought pepper spray, but how in the world is that going to control a group of three if they come after me ? I hhave heard that an air horn is helpful. To get back to other things i said before, you can smell the coyotes before you ever see them. They stink. Whether it’s glands on their rear , smelly coat, urine marking, or what have you, they give their presence away by that very strong, somewhat skunk-like smell. Every time i smell it, i see a coyote. This could help other people to be more aware of their presence. I tried to share experiences like this, and never heard a word, not a reply, nothing. Why would someone even ask for my comment with that in mind ?


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Apr 01, 2020 @ 12:34:26

      Hi Renee —

      Your comment about the intense smell of coyotes is a very interesting observation and I posted it so that everyone could see it. I didn’t think it needed a reply. I, too, can smell coyotes in areas where they frequent. In areas that they frequent less often, I don’t smell them — but they still appear in those areas. I would describe the smell less as “stinky” and more as “musty”. Most people are not “tuned-in” to the odor, so telling them that it’s an indicator of their presence wouldn’t be very helpful. More helpful is simply knowing that coyotes are in fact a presence in the same areas that humans inhabit.

      The two human deaths you talk about in your comment are the ONLY two in all of recorded time that have ever occurred due to coyotes. They are anomalies. The child’s neighbor had been feeding coyotes. Taylor Mitchell’s story is incomprehensible, except that a camera and keys were found tossed off in the distance — might she have been trying to engage with them? Might she have come between a parent and a youngster? Might she have intruded into a denning area? We don’t know what went on, but we know how terribly unusual the event was, which is why it became a historical event. So statistically, you should be more worried about getting killed by a falling tree, a golf ball, or a champagne cork.

      Coyotes simply want to be left alone. They don’t want to engage with you. If you see one, the very best advice I can give is to walk (don’t run) away from it. This will demonstrate to the coyote/s that you are not interested in them. Carrying a small stone to toss in their direction is a backup tool. The reason you need to walk away is that IF there are pups around, a parent will defend them, so pushing forward just worsens the situation. If you don’t feel comfortable walking alone, might you ask a friend to walk with you?

      Hope this helps? Let me know. Janet

  2. eayala8
    Apr 16, 2020 @ 15:06:48

    I have only seen a coyote once very early in the morning. I worry about wildlife now with this shelter in place. They are becoming comfortable out in the streets now. What is going to happen when the shelter in place is lifted? How will this shock them? I dont want harm to come to them. Also, I was trying to find a way to contact you about an article I saw in SFGate about Coyotes. It was a video of Coyotes howling in San Francisco North Beach. I saw it on Facebook but could not figure out how to share it with you.


    • yipps:janetkessler
      Apr 16, 2020 @ 17:51:52

      Hi Eayala8 —

      Thanks for contacting me. Did you read this posting? The coyotes are not out in the streets more than normal, as my posting points out. They’ve always trekked through the neighborhoods throughout the night and less so at dawn and dusk, and even less so during the day. The coyotes filmed howling in Northbeach have trudged there every single night — I have a close contact who lives right on that corner and she sees them there routinely around midnight: they haven’t just suddenly started appearing there because of shelter-in-place. That someone happened to see them and videod them howling is simply because MORE PEOPLE are out to see them: shelter-in-place has more people hanging out in their neighborhoods around their homes. These people are finally seeing the coyotes who have always been there, passing through. The coyotes are fine, they haven’t changed a bit. It’s people who have changed, due to the shelter-in-place. Hope this helps! Janet

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