Coyotes Continue to be Spotted Across Portland
They are especially active in the winter months.
What you should know.
Why you should donate to help.
Sightings in and around Portland began in the 1980s and have increased over the past 15+ years. Now, coyotes are regularly spotted across the Portland metropolitan area. By providing accessible garbage cans, compost bins, outdoor pet bowls, and free-roaming pets, humans have unintentionally invited coyotes into their backyards. With the environment changing, it is worth noting that coyotes are incredibly adaptive.
Historically, coyotes roamed only the prairies and deserts of Mexico and central North America. It was considered rare to see them west of the Cascades. But since 1940, they’ve expanded their range across the United States and up to Canada.
Coyotes are important to our environment, so we recommend working with groups, such as the Portland Urban Coyote Project (PUCP).
Biologists recognize the vital ecological role coyotes and other large carnivores play in maintaining the biodiversity, stability, and integrity of native ecosystems.
Coyotes are considered a “keystone species” – their absence would lead inexorably to the extinction of other forms of life.
Coyotes can have a “top-down” effect on ecosystems, primarily by regulating the numbers of smaller predators, such as foxes, raccoons, skunks, and feral cats through competitive exclusion and direct killing.
Studies have found that coyotes have similar indirect effects on songbirds and waterfowl.
Coyotes play a role in controlling an abundance of jackrabbits (that ruin crops) and white-tailed deer populations in suburban areas (controlling the spread of Lyme disease).
Livestock losses attributed to coyotes and other native carnivores are relatively low when compared to other causes. Native carnivores are responsible for the loss of only 0.15% of the cattle/calf population nationwide compared to what really kills livestock: bad weather, illness, theft, poison, starvation, dehydration.
Facts About Coyotes
(from Project Coyote)
- Coyotes used to be respected for their intelligence, cunning, and adaptability.
- The name coyote is derived from the Aztec word coyotyl, which, loosely translated, means trickster.
- Native folklore credited coyotes with creating life and even endowed them with human traits.
- Some Native American cultures still refer to the animal as Old Man Coyote, Little Wolf, and Medicine Dog.
- The outskirts of urban areas offer an abundance of “edge” habitat, which the coyote and other wildlife is adept at exploiting.
- Most people are unaware that there are coyotes in their midst, as coyotes generally tend to keep a low profile and avoid humans.
- Coyotes may, however, prey on cats and small dogs, since these companion animals are similar in size to their natural prey.
- In some rare instances, particularly where coyotes have been fed, or where interaction with companion dogs has been encouraged, coyotes will become diurnal and quite bold, showing little fear of people.
- Attacks on people have been rare. There is only one known human fatality from a coyote attack in U.S. history. In 1981, a coyote killed a three-year-old girl in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, California. Tragically, the girl’s family and neighbors had been purposely feeding coyotes in their neighborhood, which led the coyotes to associate humans with food.
- Coyotes are far less of a threat than the dog next door: Domestic pet dogs kill an average of about 20 people per year.
More Facts About Coyotes
(from Portland Urban Coyote Project (PUCP))
Three reasons to support the Portland Urban Coyote Project (PUCP)
- They provide up-to-date information about living with coyotes
- They collect and map coyote sightings in the Portland metropolitan area
- They conduct in-depth analyses of coyote sighting data and report on our findings
FAQs from PUCP
What can I do if I am worried about keeping my pets safe around coyotes?
To keep coyotes out of your yard and away from your pets, we suggest that you use hazing tactics. Hazing tactics include any behaviors that scare and discourage coyotes from being near humans. When you see a coyote, yell very loudly or shake a metal coffee can filled with coins. If you make the coyotes feel unwelcome then you should see them less frequently.
What should I do if I encounter a coyote?
If you encounter a coyote, it will most likely run away from you. If it sticks around and is making you uncomfortable, help discourage it from staying in the area by shouting or waving your arms. For additional information on how to discourage coyotes from being near people, check out the PUCP tutorial.
Who should I call if I see a coyote that is acting strange, aggressive, or sick?
If a coyote is very difficult to scare away from you or acting aggressively, please call the Portland Audubon Society at 503-292-6855 to report the coyote’s behavior.