Are Coyotes Dangerous?

Are Coyotes Dangerous?

Coyotes are an important part of our ecosystem. Day or night these woodland canines pose little threat to your family or pets. Taking some simple precautions can make living alongside them easy.


Coyotes are typically 35 to 50 pounds, approximately 1.5 to 2 feet tall and 4 to 5 feet long. The males are slightly larger than the females, and in the spring they are still shedding their winter coats– meaning they may appear slightly larger. Coyotes range in color from blonde, gray, to dark tan with hints of black; they have a bushy tail and large erect ears. While mostly active at sunrise and sunset, Coyotes can be observed at any time of day.

How long have coyotes been in NY?

Coyotes have called New York home since the 1930s, filling in a niche once occupied by wolves and other top predators that were extirpated from New York due to over-hunting and habitat loss. With expanding human population and land development, coyotes and other wildlife are adapting to the changing conditions and find suitable habitat within a more suburban and urban environment.

This has caused them to be seen and heard more than in the past. As with many other places, you can often hear the yips, barks, howls and sometimes catch a glimpse of coyotes here at Teatown. All this noise may sound like a large pack, but it is rarely more than a few coyotes. Coyotes do not form true packs the way wolves do– what you are hearing is a small family group consisting of a mom, dad, pups and possibly a few older siblings.

What should you do if you see one?

Coyotes are naturally wary of humans and generally keep their distance. However, if you come across a coyote, all it typically takes to scare them off is to make loud noises. Clap your hands, wave your arms, and “make yourself look big”.

If your cats are outdoors they should be supervised. Dogs should be leashed on walks and should also be supervised while in your yard. If a coyote is consistently seen on your property, try adjusting your dog’s schedule and let them out at different times. Be sure to make noise to alert coyotes to human presence.

It is important for everyone’s safety, including the coyotes, to keep them wary of humans. If you come across one in the woods who is behaving defensively, simply make some noise and back out of the area. It is most likely a female protecting her young, like any mother would do.

How to avoid attracting coyotes

Be sure to keep pet food inside, bring in bird feeders in the spring and summer, clean up around grills or fire pits, keep all sources of food in secure bins/areas and be sure to never feed wildlife. Feeding wildlife is illegal (exception is birds) and will only cause more harm to the animals.

Although coyotes will typically not pose a threat, if a coyote is acting aggressively toward humans and is a danger–Call your local police and Department of Environmental Protection office.

Want to stay up-to-date with Teatown events and programs? Join our email list to receive our bi-weekly newsletter.