National Coyote Day on March 23 promotes coyote coexistence

  • A coyote roaming through a neighborhood park.

    A coyote roaming through a neighborhood park. Courtesy of Tim Karels

Updated 3/21/2023 11:25 AM

March is not just about the first day of spring, March Madness, or celebrating St. Patrick's Day. It is also the month we celebrate a considerably less recognized holiday, National Coyote Day.

Coyotes inhabit nearly every United States city, including here in DuPage County and surrounding suburbs.


In Wheaton, it is not unusual to see a coyote trotting down your sidewalk or strolling through a neighbor's yard. However, despite their frequent presence, no other wild species in our community evokes such a wide range of emotions in residents.

Whether feared, admired, or simply misunderstood, coyotes have become the most controversial wildlife in the western suburbs.

Supporters of National Coyote Day on Thursday, March 23, strive to change that perception. Coyotes play a crucial role in our ecosystem by maintaining biodiversity. Coyotes keep rodent and rabbit populations in check and even help control disease transmission. It is essential that we learn more about these intelligent, adaptable canines and how to coexist with them.

Coyotes are different from most other suburban wildlife species because they are often considered a threat to humans simply by being seen.

In reality, coyotes are naturally afraid of people and will usually avoid us whenever possible. Aggressive behavior is unusual and often the result of associating humans as a source of food or protecting a den with young pups.

A common misconception people have is that coyotes will hunt and kill their pets. While attacks do occur, in reality, they're quite rare. Coyotes are scavengers, and the bulk of their diet consists of small rodents such as mice, voles, and rabbits. However, if given the opportunity, they will take advantage of a small, unsupervised companion animal.

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Responsible pet owners should always walk dogs on a leash and never leave pets outside alone. Pets left outside, even with a fenced-in yard, remain at risk for predation and unnecessary conflict with coyotes.

Another misconception is seeing a coyote during the day means they are rabid or dangerous. It is now common and normal to see them at any time of the day or night.

According to DuPage County Animal Services, coyote breeding season typically takes place from January through March, with pups born in April and May. You may notice more frequent daytime sightings in the upcoming spring and summer months when coyotes have young pups to feed and, therefore, more foraging to do.

There are many ways residents can help avoid conflicts and to coexist peacefully with coyotes. Make sure you properly secure garbage cans and keep pet food indoors. Remove bird feeders from your yard if coyotes have been spotted in the area. Bird feeders attract squirrels and rodents, which are coyotes' favorite food sources. Also, keep barbecue grills clean as leftover scraps of food can attract wildlife.

Be sure to close off crawl spaces around your property. Coyotes will use areas under porches and sheds for resting and raising young.

Coexistence with coyotes is an active neighborhood effort. By recognizing National Coyote Day on March 23, we increase awareness and teach residents how to help prevent conflicts and respect this intelligent canine species. Through better understanding and appreciation, we learn how to successfully coexist with coyotes in our neighborhoods and community for decades to come.