From the NYS DEC
The Eastern coyote looks like a medium-sized German shepherd dog, with long thick fur. The tail is full
and bushy, usually carried pointing down. Ears are erect and pointed.
4 to 5 feet (including tail)
35 to 45 pounds (males usually larger than females.)
Variable, from blonde or reddish blonde to dark tan washed with black. Legs, ears and cheeks usually
Coyotes in Suburbia:
The Eastern coyote, commonly believed to live only in the more wild parts of New York, readily adapts to
living close to people. Coyotes live throughout upstate New York. They have been sighted in parts of New
York City, and are common in the suburbs north of the City. As unlikely as it may seem, human
development makes surprisingly good coyote habitat. The abundant coyote food supply (e.g., rabbits,
squirrels, deer, cats, small dogs, garbage, and pet food) makes living in close to people worthwhile.
As coyotes increasingly adapt to people, more encounters between humans and coyotes will occur, either
as sightings, confrontations with pets, disturbed garbage or pet foods, or howling at night. Some
background on coyote habits may help people understand these encounters and solve any problems that
occur. To minimize conflicts, it is important that suburban residents do their part to maintain the natural
fear that coyotes have of people.
The Coyote Diet:
What do New York coyotes eat? A coyote's diet depends on one thing - what is easiest to find or catch
and kill. During the summer, coyotes will feed heavily upon berries, insects, and rodents. During early fall
they rely on abundant grasshoppers. Small mammals become the prey of choice during late fall and
winter. As winter becomes harder and small mammal populations decline, coyotes turn toward their
largest prey - whitetail deer. Deer killed by vehicles and other causes (carrion) can be an important food
source for coyotes. Lacking any carrion, coyotes can, will, and do kill healthy adult deer. Coyotes in the
spring time can have an impact on fawn survival in localized areas.
How Many Coyotes live in New York:
After hearing a family group of coyotes howl, it is easy to get the impression that the woods must be
overflowing with coyotes. In reality there were probably five or six. A few coyotes make a tremendous
amount of noise when they want to. The eastern coyote does not form a true 'pack' with multiple adults
living together like their relative the wolf. Instead they are organized as a 'family unit'. Each family unit is
made up of the adult pair and their pups from the current year. A family unit will defend a territory of 6 to
15 square miles against other coyotes. It is the territorial behavior of coyotes that limits their numbers in
any one area. The coyote population in New York during the Summer is approximately 20,000-30,000.
Young of the year coyotes are driven from their parents' territory between September and March. These
young coyotes travel up to one hundred miles in search of a vacant territory to claim as their own.
How Did Coyotes Arrive in New York?:
There are two theories to explain the presence of Eastern coyotes in New York. The first theory is that
coyotes were here before Europeans settled North America. The clearing of the forest for farms and
homes forced coyotes to retreat to unsettled areas of the northeast, e.g., the Adirondack mountains. The
return of the forest during this century coincided with the return of the coyote.
The second, and more widely accepted theory, is that the Eastern coyote is a relatively new species in
New York. This theory suggests that western coyotes extended their range eastward, eventually forming a
Whichever theory is true, coyotes have been present in New York at least since the 1930's, and firmly
established themselves by the 1970's. They are here to stay.
Coyotes or Coydogs?:
The large canid which resides in New York is a true species; they are not a hybrid. The proper name is
the Eastern Coyote, Canis latrans. Coyotes and dogs theoretically can interbreed to produce what is
called a 'coydog'. However, these crossbreeds have a reproductive cycle of dogs, not coyotes, and will
give birth at times of the year when the pups cannot possibly survive (i.e., January). In addition, there are
behavioral differences between dogs and coyotes which prevent crossbreeding from occurring. Coyotes
want to mate with other coyotes and not with dogs. Coyotes are actually more likely to prey upon a
domestic dog instead of mating with it. It is in this manner that dog genes are prevented from entering the
gene pool of true coyotes, maintaining the two separate species. Coydogs occurred at the leading edge
of coyote range expansion during the 1950 to early 1970's. The occurrence of a coydog would be an
extremely rare event in New York today.
Coyote Hunting and Trapping:
Over 60,000 New Yorkers participate in coyote hunting each year and about 3,000 participate in coyote
trapping. All of Upstate New York is open for coyote hunting and a small game hunting license is required
to hunt coyotes. All of Upstate New York is also open for coyote trapping and a trapping license is
Consult the NYS DEC Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide for more information on coyote hunting
The Environmental Conservation Law allows 'problem coyotes' to be killed at other times of the year.
Section 11-0523 says coyotes that are "injuring private property may be taken by the owner, occupant or
lessee... at any time in any manner."
|Coyotes in Irvington
|Click the links below for Coyote information
|What should I do if a coyote attacks?
Coyotes attacking humans should be presumed to have rabies.
Anyone who is bitten or scratched by a coyote should seek medical attention at the nearest hospital
All animal bites must be reported to the Westchester County Health Department to assess the need for life
saving rabies treatment.
Animal bites can be reported 24 hours a day by calling 914-813-5000.
If your pet has a conflict with a coyote, contact your veterinarian.
Do make a lot of noise and throw items at the coyote.
|What should I do if a coyote approaches?
Do not try to catch the coyote unless you are a trained animal trapper.
Coyotes that have conflicts with people may also have been fed by humans, thus making them less afraid of
If there have been coyote sightings in your area, please consider keeping small children & pets inside or
limit outside activity if not in well populated areas.
If a coyote approaches you, act aggressively: stand tall, shout, wave your arms & maintain eye contact – as
you try to scare it away and to get yourself safely inside or to a more populated area.
Do not turn your back and run away – the coyote will then view you as prey and give chase.
if you see a Coyote acting strange