Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Urban Coyotes: a Natural Part of Our City Landscape

coyote windsor square
Photo courtesy of a Windsor Village resident.

It seems like not a week goes by lately without a coyote sighting in our local neighborhoods (most recently in the early morning on Friday, August 28, on the 800 block of S. Keniston, in Brookside).  And each time, we hear much about the hazards of these notorious predators, especially to our small pets who have or may become their tragic victims.

The dangers to loose pets are quite real…but coyotes are also a natural part of our urban landscape.  They’re not here because of the drought (as many have speculated).  They are here because they’re predators and help to control the urban rodent population.

Sycamore Square resident Garry George, who works in wildlife conservation for Audubon California, the state program of National Audubon Society, and sits on the Board as Conservation Chair of Los Angeles Audubon Society, provided the following list of “10 Things You Should Know About Coyotes in Our Neighborhoods”:

1. Unlike bears and mountain lions and other top predators, coyotes are expanding their range in North America because they are adaptive and can coexist with humans.

2. The presence of a coyote is a sign that our ecosystem is healthy and not degreaded.

3. Coyote territories are mostly patchworks of parks and green spaces. They don’t take over neighborhoods or back or front yards. And you won’t find their dens.

4. Coyotes don’t rely on pets and garbage for food. A study in Chicago found that coyotes rely on a diet of small rodents (42%) – this includes gophers, rats, mice and possum (the populations of which they help to control) – and fruits and vegetables (23%). That doesn’t mean they won’t attack a loose cat or small dog, but pets that roam are also at increased risks for disease, fights, collisions with automobiles and other hazards, in addition to coyotes.

5. Coyotes may live and travel in small packs or solo.

6. Coyotes mate for life and are monogamous.

7. Coyotes often switch from hunting in the daytime to hunting in the nighttime in urban neighborhoods to avoid people.

8. The few instances where coyotes have been aggressive are associated with being fed. Pet food left outside, scattered birdseed under a feeder, or fallen fruit or compost piles all qualify as unintentional feeding of coyotes. They will defend a feeding area and exhibit defensive behavior.

9. Trapping and killing or relocating urban coyotes does not reduce the overall coyote population. Removing one coyote is an opportunity for more to come in to take over that territory. Also, the Humane Society says trapping devices are inhumane. Coyotes will stabilize their population through territories and resources. There will never be more coyotes than an ecosystem supports, so a city can never become overpopulated or infested.

10.  Finally, coyotes will respond to human hazing. If you feel threatened by a coyote, make noise and look bigger and it will distance itself. (This advice jibes with coyote “hazing” advice we’ve been seen previously from the Department of Animal Services.)

So Mr. George says, “Let’s celebrate the return of natural wildlife to our city and not react with fear and overreaction. After all, we are a part of nature and we can co-exist as we have for hundreds of years with coyotes.”

Seeing these animals stroll  down your block can be shocking, but it’s also a sober reminder that we share our city with urban wildlife.

For more on urban coyotes, see:

Project Coyote 
Urban Coyote Research
L.A. Department of Animal Services “Encounters with Coyotes”  brochure
L.A. Department of Animal Services “Wildlife Program Information”
The Natural History Museum’s “Coyotes of L.A.’s Urban Core: Using Science to Separate Fact from Fiction”


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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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  1. I’m sorry, but I feel your article, though well-intended, is very lop-sided. I personally know one neighbor and several pets who have been attacked. I also know of too many sightings to end my concern about my own pet. That alone makes me see things differently, though I’ve never wanted our local coyotes destroyed. I just want people to have all the facts–including yours–to make the right decisions for themselves and their families. None of us can afford to be complacent on this issue!

  2. Great article that gives us a better understanding of these urban creatures. We can take precautions but can’t and shouldn’t try to wipe them out.


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