Adult male coyote: 44–52" (including 14" tail), 25–42 lbs.
Illustration courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Coyotes, very adaptable wild members of the dog family, are common in northern Wisconsin and are also found in every county in the state. They are a game animal in Wisconsin; they are not endangered.
A coyote is larger than a red fox and smaller than a gray wolf. (See the illustration above for further details.) To tell the difference between a coyote and a wolf, note that a coyote carries its tail below the level of its back when it runs, whereas a wolf will hold its tail up while running.
Coyotes inhabit woodland edges, prairies, and other areas that provide cover. Dens have even been found in cultivated fields where coyotes keep rodent populations in check.
Scavenger & Predator
The coyote's diet is widely varied. As scavengers, coyotes eat dead animals, fruits, berries, and corn. They will also raid your garbage and eat pet food left outdoors. As predators, they stalk mice, other rodents, and small mammals – including those that are attracted to the seed in your bird feeders, and your pet cat. Coyotes may view your dog as a threat to their territory and food base, and may attack it as well.
Coyotes hunt most actively at night. They emerge from their dens in the early evening to begin their hunt for food and return in the early morning. Because coyotes are opportunists, be sure to accompany your pet when you let it out first thing in the morning. In a "safe" area, coyotes may be seen hunting for food during the day.
In addition to hosting parasites such as mites, ticks, and fleas, coyotes may carry diseases such as rabies and distemper. If you are a pet owner, keep your pet's vaccinations up to date to avoid complication from contact with an infected wild animal or its secretions.
Preventing problems & keeping your pets safe:
- Do respect coyotes as wild animals – they will lose their instinct to be wary of people if they begin to associate food with a human presence.
- If you see a coyote, talk loudly to warn/scare it off.
- Feed your pet indoors – or if you do feed your pet outdoors, promptly remove the food dish after the feeding.
- Remove your bird feeders and outdoor pet food containers – coyotes will prey upon the small mammals that are attracted to them.
- Store pet food indoors.
- Put trash in barrels with tightly fitting lids.
- Accompany your pet outside and speak loudly to warn/scare off coyotes. Be extra watchful between dusk and dawn. Also be especially cautious when you let your pet out first thing in the morning.
- Provide secure shelters for outside pets such as poultry and rabbits.
- Do not feed coyotes!
- Do not provide food and water for other wildlife – coyotes will prey upon them in your yard.
- Do not let your pet run free outside – coyotes may view cats as prey, and dogs as a threat to their food base.
If you see a coyote that is acting strangely. . .
this includes a coyote acting restless or agitated, making choking motions, or drooling excessively, call Animal Damage Control at 1-800-433-0688.
For more information
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has detailed information about the coyote and can answer additional questions you may have. Call (414) 263-8500.