Coyote Breeding Season in Michigan has Begun -- Keep Your Pets Safe

Tracy Stengel
Photo byJohn Thomas/Unsplash

If you haven’t seen any coyotes, you’ve probably heard them. They are considered the most vocal North American mammal and can be found in every county in Michigan. Their yips, whines, and howls sound similar to a domesticated dog. But make no mistake — coyotes are wild animals.

The coyote mating season begins mid-January and lasts until March. The pups born last Spring left their dens in the Fall and are now eager to find their mate.

Traditionally, coyotes roamed rural fields and forests, but as houses, buildings, and roads began to encroach their natural habitat, they have become common in suburban and urban areas. These highly adaptable animals have learned to survive in almost any habitat.

Coyotes are monogamous and have 4 to 7 pups per litter. Their home range in urban areas average 2 to 5 square miles. In rural areas it is typically 8 to 12 square miles. Their range depends on the plentitude of food sources, cover, and number of coyotes is the area.

During breeding season, they become more bold and their range may increase. While there is no documented coyote attack on a human in Michigan, they may be a threat to your pets. If you feel coyotes are looking for love in all the wrong places — namely near your house, there are several things you can do to protect your pets.

Coyotes are opportunistic with a keen sense of smell. While they prefer to eat small animals like mice, chipmucks, frogs, and birds, they also eat vegetables, and plants. To avoid turning your full garbage can into a coyote smorgasbord, consider keeping your trash cans indoors and not bringing them out to the curb until the day of pick-up. If that is impossible, a bungee cord over the lid could act as a deterrent.

Coyotes will eat pet food. If you leave bowls of food out for your outdoor cat, you may want to rethink leaving it out 24/7.

Bird feeders attract small rodents and birds which may be a perfect area for a coyote to stalk prey. Coyotes aren’t above eating birdseed and can wreak havoc on your feeding station. They are most active around sunrise and sunset but can be on the prowl day or night.

To protect your pets from coyotes, use a leash when taking them outside and don’t leave them unattended. Because coyotes mate for life, the male will try to protect its mate if it perceives a threat.

Coyotes are shy, but curious. It’s important for them (and us) to be instinctually wary of humans. That’s why it is vital people never try to feed, pet, or tame them. If a coyote gets to close, don’t run. Instead, look it in the eye and back away. Make noise and wave your arms.

If you come across a coyote unfazed by humans or exhibiting aggressive behavior such as stalking, growling, or chasing, report it to your local authorities or DNR. Remember, a coyote is wild and can be unpredictable. Treat those you encounter with caution and respect.

If you have tips to deter coyotes from getting too close to you or your pets, I’d love to read your advice in the comments!

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Tracy explores the world with a positive eye, an open heart, and a sprinkling of humor. Without laughter, she would be lost.

Onsted, MI

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