Coyotes (Canis latrans) are 2.5 to 3.5 feet long (nose to tail), stand as tall as a medium-sized dog, and weigh 30 to 45 lbs. Body color ranges from grayish-brown, yellow-brown, reddish-brown and tan with a short bush tail and yellow or orange eyes.
Coyotes generally pose little threat to humans, their property or pets. Coyotes have been known, in some cases, to prey on small domestic animals. It is always advisable to feed pets indoors and to keep small pets inside or securely penned at night.
Coyotes are primarily nocturnal. Coyotes are adaptive and can become increasingly active during the day in urban areas. Coyotes are the most vocal mammal in North America and use a range of distinct calls.
Coyotes breed late January to March and raise their young together. Gestation is 7 to 8 weeks. Coyotes establish maternity dens in abandoned warrens or dens. Coyotes do not form packs but live in small family groups.
Coyotes are omnivorous. A natural diet includes fruits, berries and plants, insects, and small mammals. A modified diet can include pet food, garbage, and bird feeder seeds.
Coyotes can help control deer populations by preying on fawns and small deer. Studies indicate coyotes can account for 65% of fawn mortalities within a local population.
Coyotes inhabit woodlands, grasslands, suburban and urban areas of Fairfax County.
For information on managing wildlife interactions and resolving human-wildlife conflicts, the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline is available toll-free at (855) 571-9003, 8:00AM-4:30PM, Monday through Friday.This helpline is a collaborative effort between the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the U.S. Department of Agriculture - Wildlife Services.