Coyotes are permanent residents in our province. Seeing or hearing coyotes from time to time anywhere in Nova Scotia is not unusual. They have become an important part of the ecosystem as a top-line predator. Nocturnal by nature, coyotes tend to be most active and vocal in the evening and throughout the night. Occasionally they are vocal during the day.
Coyotes are normally shy and fearful of people. When this behavior changes and they lose that fear, there is cause for concern. A coyote's loss of fear of people, called habituation, is nearly always caused by direct or indirect feeding by people or by the frequent presence of non-threatening humans in coyote habitat.
You can take steps to reduce the attractiveness of your property to coyotes and reduce the likelihood of a coyote encounter. Work with your neighbours to follow these steps. Trim trees and ground-level shrubs to reduce hiding places for coyotes and for the animals they prey upon. Store bird feeders indoors at night. Clean up spilled birdseed to avoid attracting rodents, small mammals, and other coyote prey. If you have fruit trees or berries, pick the fruit as soon as it ripens. You may also want to put up fencing to keep coyotes out.
Install motion-sensitive lighting around your yard to discourage coyote visits. Manage compost piles carefully to avoid attracting coyotes. Store garbage in tightly closing, or locking containers, that cannot be opened or tipped over.
Keep your pets safe
Cats and dogs that run free are easy prey. They may actually encourage coyotes to range closer to your property. Safeguard cats, rabbits, and small dogs by keeping them indoors. Larger dogs can be contained by outdoor kennels that are at least six feet high and preferably inset in the ground or in concrete. Never feed pets outdoors and bring dogs indoors after dark. Always walk your dog on a leash.
Fear of a coyote encounter should not stop you from enjoying outdoor recreation in your neighbourhood. Choose walking areas that are open, are well-lit, and have lots of foot traffic. Walk with a friend, use a walking stick, and carry a noisemaker, such as an air horn or whistle.