Habitat and Protection

Coyotes are a native species in South Dakota. They live in areas with tall grass or brush, wooded areas and near water. There are coyotes that live within Sioux Falls throughout the year. Coyotes eat a variety of foods such as bugs, mice, bird eggs, fruits, squirrels, rabbits, bird seed, cat or dog food, and garbage. They are attracted to the city because it provides them a relatively safe place to live, plenty of food and many places to hide. Coyotes are often found in large metropolitan cities such as Chicago and New York City. They are naturally timid and run away if confronted.

Damage and Ways to Discourage Coyotes

Coyotes do not do damage within the city, but are actually beneficial because they help control the rodent, squirrel and rabbit populations. Coyotes should not be allowed to lose their wariness of people during the daytime. As with all other wildlife species, the best way to discourage coyotes from coming to your yard are to remove the reasons why they are there: food and shelter.

  • Fence them out.  Fencing is usually a good option for keeping coyotes out of your yard.
  • Take away their hiding spot.  Coyotes are typically shy animals that like to hide behind something as they travel. Tall grass, shrubs, and wetland plants like cattails are all good hiding spots. Remove any tall vegetation or brush piles in your yard and encourage your neighbors to do so also. Tall vegetation and brush piles are also home to all kinds of wildlife like rabbits, skunks, and raccoons.
  • Scare them. Coyotes need to be educated by you and your neighbors that they are not welcome around your yard. Make loud noises, throw things, spray them with the hose or with pepper spray, spray ammonia around your home or soak rags with ammonia and place them in areas where the coyotes are spending time. Don’t run away from a coyote. Make yourself big, be loud and yell at them, wave your arms, and clap your hands. A great noise maker is made by putting few coins in a metal can. Seal the top with duct tape and shake it at the coyote when it is nearby. Use a variety of these methods so the coyotes don’t get used to just one method.
  • Don’t feed them. Keep your pet’s food in a closed container or in a garage. Do not leave pet food or garbage out where a coyote can get it. Easy food will keep them coming back. Coyotes then get more comfortable around humans and that’s when the situation gets dangerous.
  • Keep your pet inside or under your supervision.  Small pets can be seen as prey for coyotes. Make sure you watch small pets when they are outside. Coyotes may also be attracted to your pet dog if it is breeding season. If you leave your dog outside in a kennel, make sure it is in a kennel with an enclosed top. Never let your pet interact with wildlife.
  • Think SMART. Teach your family that if they are confronted by a coyote, to just follow the steps and think S.M.A.R.T.  S - Stop and don’t run; M – Make yourself look bigger (grab a stick); A – Announce yourself (yell at it!); R – Retreat by slowly backing away; T – Tell an adult.

If you have a coyote that is acting aggressively (i.e., snarling, growling) around you or your pet, call Animal Control at 367-7000.