Encountering Coyote: What to Do

Coyote video: Eating peaches early morning on Winthrop by Patty Faulkner August 2019.

More and more people have seen coyotes recently on Fishers – in their back yards, and while walking with and without their dogs. Last week a woman encountered 4 coyotes at the airport in the early morning with her small dog. She was able to immediately scare (haze) off 3 but another lingered longer.

What should you do if you encounter a coyote? It boils down to this advice:

  1. Leash your dog – Pick up and carry a small dog.
  2. Stand tall and assertive – Maintain eye contact.
  3. Haze the coyote until it leaves the area – make noise, stomp feet, flap jacket, wave flashlight.

Be sure to visit this website, Urban Coyote Initiative that expounds upon these simple points mentioned above, has a lot of good information, and includes breeding season info, and more.

4. Report overly brazen coyotes

If a coyote comes too close, follows you for too long, acts overly assertive or does not respond to hazing, report the coyote. The coyote may have become habituated to humans or is being fed by someone, which can result in aggressive behavior. It may be that the coyote can be hazed by city officials to reverse its behavior or, as unfortunately is often the case, may have to be removed.

Reporting on Fishers Island 
a. Coyote Behavior of Immediate Concern – call 1st to the NY State Trooper at 631.788.7600, if no answer call the FI Constables Joe Brock @ 631.788.5674, Jeff Edwards @ 631.788.7318, Larry Horn @ 631.788.7828. They can help and are obligated to report to the NY State DEC in Suffolk County before taking action.
b. Coyote Behavior of General Concern – call the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation in Suffolk County @ (631) 444-0250.

5. Steps to keep coyotes away from your neighborhood

  • Do not let your pet outside alone, especially at night.
  • Do not keep pet food outside.
  • Haze coyotes every time you see them, regardless of if you have a pet with you (unless it is during pupping season, February to July).
  • Avoid having any attractants in your yard, which means picking up fallen fruit from trees, cleaning the BBQ grill, securing lids on trash cans, covering your compost piles, and removing anything else that might be a food, water, or shelter source for coyotes.
Coyote at Top of the World by Mimi Gary Fall 2019
A message from the Fishers Island Conservancy’s Adam Mitchell

I can understand that coyotes can be frightening for residents on the island. Coyotes can be beneficial to the island by keeping rodent populations down and under control, much like foxes do on the mainland and the mink have done on Fishers. It is also important to note that coyotes were once native to this part of the US; the coyotes returning to New England may be a different population, but so were the wild turkeys and white-tailed deer that people appreciate being in the wild. The truth of the matter is, even if residents take measures to remove coyotes on the island, there will always be opportunities for them to come over from the mainland next year, so it will be important that residents and some small population of coyotes find a way to coexist.

I think the recommendations highlighted in the urban coyote project are useful ways to ensure healthy and safe coexistence. We should stress the importance of leashing dogs and keeping cats and other small pets indoors to maintain pet safety, and above all, encourage residents not to approach or feed any coyotes they may see.

Coyotes can quickly lose their fear of people if they start to associate humans with food or shelter, and that can lead to conflict. So removing outdoor food (including dog food), keeping trash bags in cans or indoors until ready for disposal, and refraining from littering will help reduce interactions with coyotes. If this sounds like this would also help the environment, well, sometimes what’s good for you or me is good for the planet.

Adam Mitchell
Associate Wildlife Biologist ®
Assistant Professor of Entomology
Department of Wildlife, Sustainability, and Ecosystem Sciences
Tarleton State University

2019 Coyote Sightings on Fishers Island:
Reservoir Road, July
Madeline Avenue
Winthrop Drive, August
Elizabeth Field, September
Hay Harbor Golf Course, July, August, September
Navy Yard Fence
Wilderness Point
Clay Point Road, August
Top of the World
Brooks Point

North Hill, September 1

If you have a sighting you would like to add, please email the date and location to finyinfo@gmail.com

“Play your role in maintaining a coyote’s fear of humans, and by extension, maintaining distance from pets.” ~ Urban Coyote Initiative

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