Winter has arrived in Dallas and that means an increase in coyote sightings. Coyotes sightings increase as they search for food. During this time, surviving coyote pups are anywhere from 7-8 months old and are going through a growth spurt, which means they need more food. An increase in sightings doesn’t necessarily mean there are more coyotes. It just means that they’re actively looking for food and in some situations, they’re more visible. With less leaves on our plants and shrubs, coyotes are easier to see in the winter.
Another misconception is the size of Dallas area coyotes, especially during this time of year. It’s pretty common for residents to report seeing a 50-60 pound coyote but the reality is that a male coyote typically weighs about 33 pounds, while female coyotes weigh 29 pounds. However, a winter coat can make these coyotes look like an 80 pound German Shepard.
Coyotes are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and other animals. Their diets shift throughout the year, but overall they are opportunistic eaters. They actively hunt for small prey like rabbits but a majority of their diet is scavenged meat, like roadkill. While they will certainly eat food trash, more recent research shows that trash makes up a very small part of their diet.
As mentioned, coyotes are opportunistic eaters and will visit residential areas for an extended period of time if there is a rodent issue or if they find another form of food source. Residents should not leave any pet food outside, as this creates the perfect food source for hungry coyotes. Small pets should be kept inside and should be closely monitored if they’re outside.
Coyotes are very adaptable species and can take up shelter just about anywhere. It’s not uncommon for them to have multiple denning sites. They tend to have one site for their family unit and another for hanging out for long periods of time, perhaps near residential areas. Unfortunately, that’s where they get habituated to humans.
Excluding them from a particular den site will not to get rid of them. They will simply move to one of their other den sites. In the case of the natural areas around White Rock Lake, the mowing was staggered so that areas mowed back in August through October already have some standing grass again to provide some cover for wildlife through the winter.
Please follow the following:
- Don’t feed coyotes
- Put all trash in a trash can
- Keep your dog in a leash when visiting our parks
- If you see a coyote that shows no fear to humans, do not approach it and call 311 to report it