Living with Coyotes in Newfoundland and Labrador
New Predator, New Territory
The Eastern Coyote belongs to the Canidae family, which also includes wolf, fox and dog. Although coyotes are relative newcomers to insular Newfoundland, they have quickly carved their niche here since their arrival in the mid-1980s.
- Coyotes were first reported on insular Newfoundland when “wolf-like dogs”
were seen crossing the ice near the Port au Port Peninsula in the spring of 1985.
The first confirmed coyote on the Island was a pup hit by a car near Deer Lake in 1987.
- By the mid-1990s, coyotes were confirmed throughout most of the Island of Newfoundland. Reports have also confirmed the presence of coyotes in central and southern Labrador.
Coyotes are now considered native to Newfoundland and Labrador because
they extended their range naturally and through their own efforts. No
other carnivore in recent years has expanded its range as successfully
as the coyote, which has moved from the Midwestern United States
throughout most of North America in the last 100 years.
reason for the coyote’s success is its ability to adapt to a variety of
habitats. These carnivores are opportunistic and will eat anything
available, including caribou, moose carrion, snowshoe hare and other
small mammals, birds, fruits and berries, garbage, birdseed, and on
occasion, house pets.
Photos by: Jim Robertson
Like most animals, coyotes
usually have a natural fear of people, but they also possess
natural intelligence and can quickly get used to life in
residential areas as long as they have easy access to food. Although attacks on humans are extremely
rare, they can occur if a coyote becomes too comfortable around
people and starts associating humans with food.
Slimmer and smaller than a wolf, usually weighing about 25
to 40 lb., and measuring about 4-5’ long and about 2’ high
at the shoulder. Females are slightly smaller than males.
Tawny, black-tipped, bushy tail, generally carried below
the horizontal line of the animal’s back, with a scent gland
located at the root of the tail. Strong-smelling urine
is used to mark its territory. Coat is usually tawny gray
with black tips, with white fur on its throat, belly and
inside the ears. Long, soft fur is light-coloured
in winter, darkening in summer.
and long, pointy muzzle are reddish yellow. Unlike most
dogs, the top of a coyote’s muzzle forms an almost
continuous line with the forehead. Eyes are yellow; ears are wide, pointed and erect.
Communicate using a complex vocal system;
two short barks and a long, wavering yodel. Excellent hearing and vision.
runners, reaching speeds of more than 60 kilometres an hour.
We live in harmony with most wildlife in Newfoundland and Labrador, often
without even realizing it. Our forests and barrens are home to many
animals; unless we intentionally seek them out, some people can go a
lifetime without being aware of their presence. As long as humans and wildlife respect each others’ boundaries,
conflicts can be avoided – but we all have to do our part to make sure
we don’t encourage behaviour that could cause problems for wildlife.
coyotes are near your home:
- Never leave edible
garbage or pet food outside.
- Limit use of birdseed,
and pick up fallen fruit around your property.
- Keep pets indoors, or
under supervision when outside. Roaming or unattended pets
easy target for coyotes. Have pets spayed or neutered to avoid
- Never attempt to tame a
coyote by feeding it.
- If you are having a
problem with coyotes near your home,
contact a local
Conservation Officeror other authority.
coyote approaches you:
- Stop, remain calm and
assess your situation.
- Never approach or crowd
a coyote — give it an escape route.
- If the coyote seems
unaware of you, move away quietly when it is not looking in your
- If the coyote is aware
of you, respond aggressively: wave your arms, shout, and maintain
eye contact. Carry a whistle and blow it to startle the animal.
- Throw rocks,
sticks or other objects at the coyote. It’s a good idea to carry a
walking stick with you for protection if necessary.
- If the coyote continues
to approach, back away slowly and move toward buildings or human
activity. Do not turn away or run. This will encourage the coyote to
- If the coyote attacks
you, fight back.
For more information, or to report a coyote sighting, please contact:
Department of Environment and Conservation
P.O. Box 2007
117 Riverside Drive
Tel: (709) 637-2025