Why Coyotes Keep Coming Back To Your Yard (How To Stop Them)

An eastern coyote close up

There’s nothing quite as chilling as hearing the howl of a coyote just outside your window. If you’ve tried scaring the coyotes away but they keep coming back time after time, there may be something in your yard that is luring them back.

Coyotes will continue to return to locations that offer food, water, and shelter. Some of the things that keep coyotes coming back to your yard include livestock and poultry, small prey animals, pet food, unsecured garbage, adequate cover or den locations, gardens, fruit trees, and irrigation lines.

If you can’t seem to get rid of those pesky coyotes, read on to discover why they keep coming back and how to stop them for good.

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Why Coyotes Keep Coming Back To Your Yard

Coyotes are one of the few animals that have benefited from human expansion. Both their range and population have increased over the years.

Nowadays, coyotes live in every state in the continental United States and Alaska. They can be found in rural, suburban, and urban neighborhoods as well as unpopulated areas.

Coyotes are being spotted in yards more and more, but some yards see more coyotes than others. If you’ve noticed coyotes continually making trips through your yard, there are 4 main reasons:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Lack of consequences

The lack of consequences is super important. It’s one of the main reasons why coyotes will keep coming back to your yard.

If there is food, water, or shelter available in your yard and a coyote enters your yard and gets the reward (food, water, or shelter) without any consequences, it is definitely going to come back.

Normally, coyotes are wary of people, but urban coyotes have begun to lose their fear of people because they get rewards without any negative consequences.

Now, onto the good stuff. Let’s check out exactly why coyotes keep coming back to your yard.

Coyotes Target Livestock And Poultry

One of the main reasons why coyotes were so heavily gone after back in the day is because they would go after our livestock out on the plains.

This issue is a longstanding problem and continues to this day. According to the University of California, animals like chickens, goats, and sheep do not have any way to defend themselves against predators like coyotes.

They are, unfortunately, an easy target for coyotes.

If coyotes are allowed to prey on livestock and poultry without fear of repercussions, they are going to continue to come back for a source of food.

A proper chicken coop and a guard dog can go a long way! More on that later.

Domestic white chicken sits on a branch or wooden stick in the village, focus selective.

Coyotes Come Back To Your Yard To Go After Small Mammals

Despite what media outlets and news articles would have you believe, coyotes don’t dumpster dive or snack on outdoor pets as often as you think.

The majority of a coyote’s diet is made up of small mammals like rats, mice, squirrels, and rabbits.

If your yard is a haven for little pitter-pattering animals, you may be accidentally attracting coyotes as well and it could be the reason they keep coming back to your yard.

Luckily, getting rid of rats and mice in the yard isn’t too tricky with a little yard maintenance and modifications. Here are 5 things that attract mice to your home (and how to fix them).

Outdoor Pet Food Will Invite Coyotes Back To Your Yard

If you haven’t noticed, there’s a bit of a theme going on here – coyotes are food motivated! A lot of times they will continue to come back to a food source.

If that food source happens to be in your yard, well, you can bet a coyote won’t pass up an easy meal! Pet food that is left outside overnight is a sure way to attract coyotes and keep them coming back.

Coyotes may prefer to eat other things, but they won’t pass up an easy meal.

You can read more about the plants that coyotes eat to see if you have any near your yard!

Coyotes Will Come Back To Your Yard For Food Scraps

Outdoor picnics are a staple in the summertime, but the aftermath of spilled food and sweet drinks can be an invitation for coyotes to come into your yard.

Food scraps left out after cooking on the grill or food scraps left in an unsecured garbage bin will invite coyotes back to your yard for days and days. 

It’s an easy meal and if they’re stealing the scraps at night, there will be no consequences associated with the free food.

If you want some more options to limit coyotes in your yard – can read more about how to keep coyotes away for good here.

Coyotes Return To Yards When There’s Good Cover

Coyotes don’t like being seen by people and will use any type of cover they can find to remain hidden. There may be coyotes wandering the streets of your neighborhood and you would never know.

A study reported in The American Midland Naturalist found that coyotes prefer areas with natural covers over highly dense residential neighborhoods.

In other words, the more natural cover such as trees, bushes, and thick brush that you have in your yard, the more likely coyotes are going to keep coming back to use them for cover.

If you’re in a rural area, did you know that coyotes are actually becoming more and more likely to be found in cities as urbanization increases?

Coyotes Come Back To Your Yard To Raid Your Garden

Coyotes are often labeled as ‘predators’ but they are omnivores. They will eat vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds just as readily as rabbits or mice.

If you have a garden that is not fenced in, you’re providing coyotes with an open buffet that will keep them coming back to your yard.

The only respite will be when the garden is not producing such as in late fall, winter, and early spring. 

If you find a coyote in your yard, don’t be scared. Here’s what to do!

Coyote walking across road edge

Water Sources Will Encourage Coyotes To Come Back

We’ve talked a lot about how food and sources of cover will keep attracting coyotes back to your yard. Now, let’s move on to their last requirement – water.

Sources of water that may attract coyotes include:

  • Ponds
  • Irrigation lines
  • Streams
  • Water dishes for pets

If you have one or more of these on your property, it may be the reason you keep seeing coyotes in your yard.

Fruit Trees Will Entice Coyotes To Come Back To Your Yard

We’re back on food again! Food is truly one of the most important factors in bringing wildlife to your yard. Coyotes have an extremely good sense of smell that they can use to sniff out food wherever it may be.

Coyotes are omnivores that will do anything to get an easy, quick, effortless meal. Fruit that has fallen to the ground but not rotted is the perfect meal and will entice coyotes to return to your yard as long as there is fruit available.

This can be especially troublesome for warmer climates that never have a dormancy period. Areas like Florida, Texas, and California may have coyote problems all year long.

How To Stop Coyotes From Coming Back To Your Yard

There’s a big difference between having something like squirrels or deer come back to your yard and having coyotes come back to your yard.

Squirrels and deer are cute little animals that you can scare away just by walking out the front door. Coyotes are much more intimidating, though they are still wary of people in most instances.

To stop coyotes from coming back to your yard, there are a few things you can do.

  • Proper fencing: Coyotes are agile climbers and diggers. Be sure the fence is high enough and buried in the ground at least 8 inches. Here’s more info from our guide on building a coyote proof fence.
  • Guardian dog: A study in the Wildlife Society Bulletin found that over 7 years, livestock guardian dogs reduced lost lambs by 43% and lost ewes by 25%.
  • Keep the lawn mowed: Small mammals use tall grass for protection from the watchful eyes of predators. Keep the lawn mowed to give them less cover and therefore attract fewer coyotes.
  • Trim bushes: Keep the bottom of your yard bushes trimmed so that it is open underneath. This will eliminate cover for both coyotes and the prey they go after.
  • Clean up birdseed: Fallen birdseed attracts prey animals like rodents and rabbits. Use a catcher tray like Pranovo’s Bird Seed Catcher Tray to catch falling seeds from your feeder.
  • Remove brush piles: Any extra material in your yard like brush piles, wood piles, unused wood, and unused materials can provide small mammals with a hiding place.
  • Pick up pet food: If you must feed your pets outside, pick up the food dish in the evening and replace it in the morning. The same can be said for water dishes.
  • Keep garbage secure: Use bungee cords or a lid lock like Blazer Brand’s Strong Strap Stretch Latch to keep your garbage can lids secure.
  • Pick up fallen fruit: Yep, coyotes eat fruit too! Fallen fruit will attract coyotes and keep them coming back. Pick up fruit as soon as it falls from the tree to avoid coyotes in the yard.
wooden garden fence at backyard and bloom tree in spring

For irrigation lines, try using a scent repellent. A study in the Journal of Human-Wildlife Interactions found that capsaicin and pulegone were both effective at deterring coyotes from chewing irrigation hoses.

Capsaicin is the hot in hot sauce (found in hot peppers) and pulegone is a constituent of oils derived from mint products.

Add 10-15 drops of hot sauce or mint essential oil to 1 cup of water and place in a spray bottle. Spray irrigation lines and be sure to reapply the mixture once per week or after heavy rain. If you’d like some more scent based options, take a peak at our guide on how to repel coyotes using scents!

That’s All For Now!

Coyotes are here to stay, making their way into our cities and neighborhoods but remaining unseen. There’s not much that can be done about them except to learn to live with them.

That being said, you don’t have to put up with coyotes in your yard! If you keep seeing coyotes trotting around your yard, there are a few reasons they keep coming back:

  • Livestock/Poultry
  • Small mammals – rats, mice, voles, moles
  • Pet food
  • Food scraps
  • Adequate cover
  • Gardens
  • Irrigation lines
  • Fruit trees

To keep coyotes from coming back to your yard night after night, be sure to keep up with yard maintenance and remove any food, water, or sources of cover that coyotes are taking advantage of.

If you can’t seem to get rid of your uninvited guest, you can use our nationwide pest control finder to get in contact with a professional near you.

References

Breck, S. W., Poessel, S. A., Mahoney, P., & Young, J. K. (2019, February 14). The intrepid urban coyote: a comparison of bold and exploratory behavior in coyotes from urban and rural environments. Scientific Reports, 9(2104). https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-38543-5

Hartman, J. (2016). Dealing with the Issues of the urban Coyote: One Country’s Experience. Proceedings of the Vertebrate Pest Conference, 27, 85-89. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/37g166hc

Kenaga, B. A., Krebs, R. A., & Clapham, W. B. (2013). Coyote Land Use Inside and Outside Urban Parks. The American Midland Naturalist, 170(2), 298-310.

Saitone, T. L., & Bruno, E. M. (2020, February 06). Cost Effectiveness of Livestock Guardian Dogs for Predator Control. Wildlife Society Bulletin, 44(1), 101-109. https://wildlife.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/wsb.1063

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