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Coyotes are on the Move, Once Again

Understanding Coyotes 

Advice for Parents, School Officials, and Child Care Providers 

Here in Massachusetts, there are many kinds of wildlife that thrive by living near people, including coyotes, red and gray fox, skunks, raccoons, wild turkey, and deer. In fact, almost all of our citizens live in close proximity to coyotes and other smaller predators. This information focuses on coyotes, but also applies to foxes, another commonly seen wild canid (dog). Coyotes live in urban, suburban, and rural areas and are naturally wary of people, but can definitely become comfortabl􀀃 in neighborhoods where they are not discouraged (by noise and other forms of hazing) or are actually encouraged {by ready sources of food, provided either directly and indirectly). 

Preventing Conflicts 

Leave Wildlife Wild. People should never approach, touch, or give food to .fillY animal (including a pet that doesn't belong to them). Such contact is not safe for people, pets, or wildlife. 


 • Normally, wild animals have a natural fear of people. However, sick or fed (including indirectly) wildlife may be more likely to lose the fear of people.

• Some children may think that a coyote (or fox) is someone's dog, and many more people are bitten every year in the U.S. by aggressive dogs than by wild animals.

• Outdoor cats and wildlife can carry diseases that can be spread to people through direct contact.

Keep Food Sources Indoors or Locked in Outbuildings. Why? 

• Food (including snacks, pet food, birdseed, suet, and food-related trash) can attract coyotes, foxes, and other kinds of wildlife. Left outside, these foods encourage wild animals to visit residential areas or schoolyards more frequently. Prevent unwanted visitors by only feeding pets indoors, discontinuing bird-feeding, keeping dumpster areas clean, and using covered, secure trash barrels.

• Outdoor cats and wildlife can carry diseases that are spread when the animals feed in a concentrated area.

Spend Time in Your Backyard; Keep Playgrounds, Schoolyards, and Trails Mown and Open. Why? 

Wild animals, including coyotes and foxes, generally try to avoid people. This natural fear of people is reinforced when play areas, backyards, and trails are kept open and actively used by people. These animals are less likely to spend time or be seen in areas that are used by people, especially ·when people make noise to deter wildlife.

When Children See a Coyote Nearby 

Some parents express concern about their children1s safety when they see or hear about coyotes in the neighborhood. In the vast majority of instances, there is no cause for alarm. Actual coyote attacks are extremely rare: Since the 1950s, when the Eastern Coyote were first found in Massachusetts, there have been only four attacks on people by coyotes in Massachusetts. Two of those animals were rabid, one was suspected to be rabid, and biologists suspect the fourth animal had been treated for a leg fracture by someone unfamiliar with proper wildlife rehabilitation practices. By contrast, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, about 4.5 million people are bitten by domestic dogs each year in the U.S. 

When children are at a bus stop, in a backyard or neighborhood, or on a playground, there1s a chance they might see a coyote or a fox. 

Explain to children: 

(1) Never go near or try to feed wild animals or any animal you don't know. Talk loudly, so the coyote or fox knows you are there. Don't run, but slowly back away, toward a building or house. Make yourself look bigger by putting your arms over your head or opening your jacket.


• The animal might not be aware that you are there. Talking loudly makes sure the animal is not surprised and frightened to find that a person is nearby.

• Instinctively, coyotes and foxes (and pet dogs) will follow after anything that runs, including a . person, so you don1t want to run from them.

• The bigger you look, the scarier you look to an animal.

 Find and Tell an Adult. Why? 

Adults can harass and scare away these animals, to reinforce their natural fear of people. Adults can also quickly decide whether a wild animal or large dog is acting strangely or aggressively, and can call Public Safety for help.

Coyote. Basics 

Coyotes are now found in every city and town in Massachusetts, except on the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Coyotes are frequently seen individually, in pairs, or in small groups where food is commonly found. A family group consists of an adult breeding pair, their pups, and, occasionally, the previous year's pups. Coyotes can be active night or day, and sightings at dawn or dusk are common. 

For more advice and facts about coyotes, foxes, and other common neighborhood wildlife, go to:

If you have exhausted these information sources but still have safety concerns or questions, contact the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife at (508) 389-6300, or email us at

If you decide that a situation requires an immediate response, contact local public safety officials 

(911), or the Massachusetts Environmental Police at 800-632-8075. 

Continue to enjoy the great outdoors and your wild neighbors ... 

from a distance! 

MASSWILDLIFE Rabbit Hill Road I Westborough, MA 01581 I

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