Urban Coyotes

Coyotes are present across Iowa’s landscape including urban areas. As a remarkably adaptable species, Coyotes are able to survive in close proximity to humans and make use of the urban environment. Often drawn in to urban areas by abundant food items, coyotes may risk close encounters with people for available fruits, birdseed, pet food, and garbage as well as prey such as rabbits, squirrels, and mice.

Coyotes will continue to exist in urban areas, making use of river systems, greenways, parks, and ditches. A number of techniques can be used by anyone in areas with coyotes to reduce the risk of conflict with coyotes. 

Urban Coyote Actions Steps

Removal of food handouts or food opportunities

  • Do not feed pets outside or immediately cleanup any leftover or spilled food.
  • Do not directly feed coyotes or any wildlife.
  • Contain garbage in a closed receptacle.
  • Dispose of uneaten food from outdoor gatherings in garbage.
  • Do not dump food in backyards.
  • Do not compost meat, poultry, fish, or dairy.
  • Turn compost often to speed up breakdown of food materials.
  • Contain compost in a container that is not accessible to wildlife.
  • Cleanup spilled bird feed.
  • Cleanup any unused fruit from the ground from fruit trees.

Keeping pets safe

  • Do not leave pets unattended outside.
  • Outdoor cats and small dogs are a potential prey item for coyotes and detrimental to the environment.
  • If pets are in a fenced in yard be sure the fence is appropriate for keeping coyotes out. A five- to six-foot fence with a ‘coyote roller’ type structure on top or 8 foot fence of material that is not climbable.
  • Particularly in late winter, during the breeding season, and spring, during the pup rearing season, coyotes will be more aggressive towards dogs. Keep dogs on a leash.
  • If a coyote is encountered while walking a dog do not let the dog engage with the coyote. Keep the dog nearby or if it is a small dog pick it up. Haze the coyote according to steps below.

Hazing Coyotes 

  • Loud noises such as yelling, shaking a can of coins, whistles, pots and pans clanging, air horns, etc… directed specifically at the coyote from you.
  • Make yourself look big by raising your arms in the air or waving an object in your hand.
  • Throw objects towards the coyote such as sticks or balls.
  • Use a garden house or squirt gun to spray water at the coyote.
  • Haze loudly and aggressively. Do not chase the coyote, but let it know that you are serious.
  • As with training dogs: Don’t ask it, tell it!  
  • Do not hide behind something when hazing: make sure the coyote knows it is a human that is hazing.
  • Do not run away.
  • Continue to haze until the coyote leaves.
  • Haze anytime a coyote is seen in an area that it should not be.
  • Do NOT haze a coyote if it appears sick/injured, is cornered, or is with pups.

Report aggressive behavior (Urbandale Parks & Facilities 515.331.6799)

  • A sighting of a coyote by itself is not reason for alarm: coyotes do live in cities.
  • Sightings near dawn or dusk are to be expected and do not need to be reported.
  • Frequent sightings during the day can be a sign of a more habituated coyote and should be reported.
  • A coyote approaching people or pets should be reported.
  • Report any sick or injured coyotes.

For more information about coyotes or techniques to reduce negative interactions with coyotes, please reach out to Iowa DNR Biologists Andy Kellner (515.975.8318, andrew.kellner@dnr.iowa.gov) or Vince Evelsizer (641.231.1522, vince.evelsizer@dnr.iowa.gov).