Following coyote attacks on young children in Westchester, the Health Department reminds residents to presume, as a precaution, that any coyotes that attack people could have rabies. In September of 2010, a dead coyote in Rye Brook was confirmed rabid. Learn how to safeguard your family, your pet and your property.
What do coyotes look like?
Large erect ears, narrow muzzles and golden brown eyes
Bushy tails held down when in motion
Reddish-yellow, tan or gray general appearance
Bib-like patch of white fur around lower jaw and neck
Darker gray and black hairs on upper body and lighter cream-colored undersides
Coyotes in our region weigh between 35 to 50 pounds
They often appear heavier due to a thick, double coat of fur
What should I do if a coyote approaches?
If you see a coyote in your neighborhood, call 911. Do not try to catch the coyote unless you are a trained animal trapper.
Coyotes that have conflicts with people may also have been fed by humans, thus making them less afraid of approaching humans.
If there have been coyote sightings in your area, please consider keeping small children & pets inside or limit outside activity if not in well populated areas.
If a coyote approaches you, act aggressively: stand tall, shout, wave your arms and maintain eye contact as you try to scare it away and to get yourself safely inside or to a more populated area.
Do not turn your back and run away. The coyote will then view you as prey and give chase.
What should I do if a coyote attacks?
Coyotes attacking humans should be presumed to have rabies. Anyone who is bitten or scratched by a coyote should seek medical attention at the nearest hospital emergency room.
All animal bites must be reported to the Westchester County Health Department to assess the need for life saving rabies treatment. Animal bites can be reported 24 hours a day by calling 914-813-5000.
If your pet has a conflict with a coyote, contact your veterinarian.
Do make a lot of noise and throw items at the coyote.
How can I keep coyotes away?
While outside, bring along items that you can use to make loud noises such as pots or pans, noisemakers and loud horns. Have handy items to throw at coyotes.
If walking dogs, use a short leash and do not let dogs wander off on their own, especially small dogs.
Remove any potential outside food sources that could attract coyotes:
Bring pet food and water dishes inside.
Do not put out any food for birds such as seed or crumbs.
Do not leave food outside unattended.
Cover garbage cans securely.
What do coyotes eat?
In the suburbs they eat outdoor pet food and spilled bird seed, accessible garbage or compost, fallen tree fruit, rats, insects, squirrels and geese.
In rural areas they eat small mammals, such as mice and rabbits, fruits, vegetables, insects, fish, birds and eggs.
When are coyotes most active? Coyotes are active both day and night. Coyote young are born in the spring, and nursing females and their growing young need increasing amounts of food throughout the summer. At the same time, people and their pets spend more time outdoors in warmer weather, increasing the chances for coyote encounters.