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Co-existing with Coyotes

Brenda Sears, Asheville Animal Services Supervisor with the Asheville Police Department has provided the following information to educate area residents about how to co-exist with our local coyote population.

Photo of a CoyoteA coyote looks like medium-sized dog with a heavy tan or rust-colored coat and slender muzzle.

In the past few years sightings of coyotes have increased. This is because, not only are the animals more numerous, but local development and increased human activity imposing on their habitat have contributed to an increase in passive encounters.

Please note the following:

  • Coyotes are not a threat to humans. They are wary creatures and prefer to stay out of sight. Even though the coyote population has been established in our area for many years most people are surprised when they see activity. Seeing a coyote is not a cause for concern.
  • Coyotes are the ultimate survivors. They are adept hunters and will prey on any animal smaller than themselves. It is natural for them to be attracted to any location where a food source is plentiful. In some cases they will be more active during daylight hours or bolder in their hunting habits in order to take advantage of available food.
  • Coyotes howl. Vocalizations, although they may sound menacing, do not indicate a large number of animals or a threat of any kind.

How can Buncombe County residents coexist safely and peacefully with coyote neighbors? Here are some common-sense suggestions if you witness coyote activity in your neighborhood.

  • Make sure you are not contributing to the sightings by deliberately or unintentionally providing a source of food. Attractants might include pet food or other grain products left outdoors, garbage or cluttered lots appealing to rodents or improperly kept outdoor pets such as fowl.
  • Supervise cats and small dogs particularly during night time hours.
  • Maintain current rabies vaccinations as required by law for all of your cats and dogs.
  • If you see a coyote, frighten it by making a loud noise or other disturbance. This effectively teaches the coyote humans are not pleasant to deal with and are best avoided.

Finally, the agency responsible for managing coyotes and other wild animals is the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (WRC). The WRC has a web page with additional educational materials and resources at

The Asheville Nature Center is also an expert resource on local wildlife species and may be able to provide valuable information. They can be reached at (828) 298-5600 and on the web at

Source: February 2013 Critter Magazine