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The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) wants to remind people to take precautions with their pets when living in coyote country. Several recent coyote attacks on pets have taken place in open space areas and private yards in neighborhoods adjacent to the Highline Canal and other Front Range neighborhoods in proximity to the foothills.

The DOW wants to caution people about encounters with coyotes. These are not pets. They are wild animals that are predators, and they should be treated with caution and respect. There are several precautions people can take with their pets to decrease the odds of an attack. The coyote (Canis latrans) is a member of the dog family. It resembles a small German shepherd with the exception of the long snout and bushy, black-tipped tail. Coyotes are extremely adaptable and resourceful, and can survive on whatever food is available. They prey on rabbits, mice, birds and other small animals, as well as young deer and sheep. In urban areas, coyotes have attacked people's small pets - cats and dogs included – particularly when pets are allowed to roam free or left out in yards overnight. A typical coyote weighs about 50 lbs., and can easily outmatch a smaller pet.

“Coyotes are adaptable predators, found in most open habitats, including city neighborhoods, open space, parks and trails,” said District Wildlife Manager, Crystal Peterson. “They are tolerant of human activities, and adapt and adjust rapidly to changes in their environment. As coyote pups grow older and there is more competition for food, a coyote's behavior can change. The biggest problems occur when people feed coyotes -- either deliberately or inadvertently.”

Many urban coyote conflicts often center on feeding issues. When people feed wildlife, it doesn't take long to teach a wild animal to associate people with food, but it’s very difficult to convince a habituated coyote to return to wild ways. Coyotes that appear friendly may be mimicking behavior that has been rewarded with food in the past: Remember that all wildlife is unpredictable. Do not get close or encourage interaction with wild animals. When it becomes apparent that no food is forthcoming, the coyote’s behavior can change abruptly.

People with pets need to keep them on a leash when walking them. While at home, pets should not be allowed to roam freely. Even pets in enclosed yards run the risk of predation, especially at night. People should also feed their pets inside in an effort to keep pet food from attracting coyotes and other wildlife. Remind children not to approach or feed any wildlife. If children feel threatened by the presence of coyotes or other wildlife, they should stay in a group and walk slowly to an area where adults are present. Make sure your child understands that a coyote is a wild dog and should be treated with caution. While attacks on humans are extremely rare, people should still take precautions.

Encounters with aggressive coyotes should be reported to the Colorado Division of Wildlife at (303)297-1192. For more information, please ask for a copy of “Living with Wildlife in Coyote Country” at your local Division of Wildlife office or on the web at


The Colorado Division of Wildlife is the state agency responsible for managing wildlife and its habitat, as well as providing wildlife related recreation. The Division is funded through hunting and fishing license fees, federal grants and Colorado Lottery proceeds through Great Outdoors Colorado. Go to the Division of Wildlife for more information.

Mailing Address

PO Box 73
Drake, CO 80515

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