Fisheries and Land Resources

Living with Coyotes in Newfoundland and Labrador

Eastern Coyote

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.

One 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.

Identifying Coyotes

Eastern Coyote
Eastern Coyote
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.
  • Legs, paws 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; commonly two short barks and a long, wavering yodel. Excellent hearing and vision. Agile runners, reaching speeds of more than 60 kilometres an hour.

Are coyotes dangerous?

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.

If 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
    are an easy target for coyotes. Have pets spayed or neutered to avoid attracting coyotes.
  • Never attempt to tame a coyote by feeding it.
  • If you are having a problem with coyotes near your home,
    contact a local Conservation Officer or other authority.

If a 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 direction.
  • 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 chase you.
  • If the coyote attacks you, fight back.

For more information, or to report a coyote sighting, please contact:

Department of Environment and Climate Change
Wildlife Division
P.O. Box 2007
117 Riverside Drive
Corner Brook, NL A2H 7S1
Tel: (709) 637-2025
Last Updated:
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