Michigan Has a Coyote Problem What If You Encounter One

Michigan Department of Natural Resources, Lansing, MI — March 16, 2021

Anywhere in Michigan, if you venture outside in the evening you might hear the howls of coyotes roaming the state. Even in metropolitan areas, the wild dogs are seen more often as they scavage for food. A hungry coyote can be a threat to small pets and if the animal has become accustomed to human encounters it can be emboldened by these interactions.

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images

According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Coyotes may be more visible from January until March, as this is their breeding season and when they are caring for their pups during the spring and summer months.

Coyotes may become comfortable living near people, particularly if there are food sources available. Smaller mammals, like mice and rabbits, are a coyote’s main source of food.

What You Can Do to Discourage Coyote Contacts

  • Prevent conflicts by removing food sources and use hazing techniques
  • Remove potential attractants such as trash bins, bird feeders, and pet food.
  • NEVER intentionally feed or try to tame coyotes.
  • Fence off gardens and fruit trees.
  • Clear out wood and brush piles.
  • Accompany pets outdoors, and do not allow them to roam free.
  • Take advantage of a coyote’s natural fear of humans and scare them off if you see them.

Coyote Removal Options

Coyote hunting is open year-round, and Michigan residents need a valid base license to hunt for them. See the current-year Fur Harvester Digest for coyote hunting and trapping regulations.

On private property where coyotes are doing or about to do damage, a property owner or designee can take coyotes year-round; a license or written permit is not needed.

A permitted nuisance control business may be able to assist in the safe removal of problem animals in urban or residential areas.

Additional tips and information on how to handle conflicts with wildlife are available at Michigan.gov/Wildlife or by contacting the DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453.

Michigan Coyote Description

The following is a description of Michigan Coyote’s courtesy of the DNR

  • A member of the Canidae (dog) family
  • Coloration is generally greyish brown with lighter fur on the throat and belly, individual colors and patterns may vary
  • Fur is dense and thick, often giving them a larger appearance
  • Ears are pointed and stand up, unlike the ears of domestic dogs that often droop
  • When running, coyotes carry their bushy, black-tipped tail down usually below the level of their back
  • Common throughout Michigan in rural to urban areas
  • Active day and night, most active around sunrise and sunset
  • Abundant in areas where adequate food, cover, and water are available
  • Home range size depends on the food and cover resources available and on the number of other coyotes in an area. It generally averages between 8-12 square miles, in urban areas they average 2-5 miles
  • Breeding takes places Jan. – March, and people are more likely to see and hear coyotes during this time
  • Mated pairs and 4-7 pups occupy the home range during the spring and summer seasons
  • If there is a den nearby, people may also see the adults throughout the summer as they care for their pups
  • Pups leave the den site in the fall and these young dispersing animals are sometimes more visible
  • Coyotes eat a variety of foods: small mammals such as mice, voles, shrews, rabbits, hares, and squirrels are preferred foods. However, insects, fruits, berries, birds, frogs, snakes, deer, plants, and seeds are also eaten