Where Do Urban Coyotes Prefer to Hang Out?

Where do urban coyotes prefer to hang out? Coyotes can be spotted anywhere in urban settings: streets, parks, yards. But they tend to keep to their preferred areas in large urban parks. Most coyotes stay well hidden during the day in the parks: under brush areas, in thickets, in less frequented areas of the parks. It is very difficult to detect them when they remain still in these denser areas because of their well camouflaged coats — they blend in beautifully with their surroundings most of the time. All coyotes will remain within reach of these denser areas which serve as their safety net. These denser areas are also where various dens are hidden — coyotes, for their own protection, move among various dens when their litters are young.

I have seen individual coyotes hang out in large open fields, areas where they hunt for gophers or voles. They usually will retreat when the first visitors appear in a park, but sometimes they may continue their activity, totally unperturbed! I have seen a couple of coyotes in mid-elevation areas where they appear to be relaxing on a little rise in the ground, fairly distant from where human and dog activity is: here, they’ll stay put and monitor the activity in the distance, getting up only when a dog charges up at them. When a coyote feels intruded upon or threatened by a dog, it will either flee, or it will climb to a higher ground level where it might begin a long barking session. It might also return the favor of a chase.

Coyotes, like the rest of us, do move around in the parks, and can be seen sometimes during daylight hours on the paths. If you see one, it probably has been hunting in the area, or it is on its way somewhere. And if you have a dog, a coyote might follow you at a distance to asses and monitor the dog — this might be for various reasons, including curiosity. But also, coyotes are territorial and are aware of any potential competition for the resources they need to survive on. They may be assessing how much of threat this dog might be to them.

I have heard of a coyote darting in front of the path of a dog which it knew wouldn’t harm it, playfully teasing the dog into a mild chase. And I have heard of a coyote jump-leaping onto a leashed dog next to a runner on a trail. The owner yanked the dog and the coyote missed its target. It should be noted that this happened in April which is prime pupping season — April through September is a timeframe when territorial instincts are very high in coyotes.

Some of the coyotes seem to have favorite spots in some of the parks: one might overlook an area with very little dog/human activity. Another might overlook a trail frequented by dog walkers — keeping an eye on things seems to be one reason coyotes are out in the open.

Coyotes also have been spotted on city streets. They do not “hang out” here, but are usually they are on their way somewhere: pedestrians have seen them, and the traffic has stopped for them!

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