Coexisting with Coyotes

The Saratoga community shares its space with wildlife due to creek systems and open space in and around the City. At times, wild animals, including coyotes, are spotted in the lowland areas of the City. Urban sprawl and habitat encroachment are the main reasons behind increased wild animal sightings and challenges. The loss of open space and natural habitat has also decreased territories for wild animals to live and has disrupted predator-prey cycles.

Tips to Deter Coyotes

Like all wild animals, the behavior of coyotes changes when they have access to food or garbage and become more familiar with humans. This may cause them to lose their natural fear of humans and become bolder. Prevention is key to maintaining a healthy and safe relationship. The following tips may help keep coyotes uninterested in your property and away from your family:

  • Always keep trash, recycling, and compost in secure bins. Fasten lids with rope or bungee cords if necessary.
  • Dispose of attractive food waste, such as meat, cheese, and eggs, by adding a small amount of ammonia to the bag.
  • Clean garbage bins with bleach or ammonia. 
  • Wait to put garbage bins out the morning of pickup rather than the night before. 
  • Clean your grill after you use it, including the grease tray, to eliminate odors. 
  • Pick ripe fruit off trees, and promptly collect fruit that falls on the ground.
  • Keep bird feeders clean and maintained or remove them. Plant native flowers to attract birds instead.
  • Install motion-activated lights, noise, or alarms outside your home.
  • Trim ground-level shrubbery and clear away dense brush or weeds to reduce hiding places for coyotes and rodents.
  • Do not leave pet food outside.
  • Spay and neuter your dog. Coyotes have been known to lure male dogs into a trap by getting them to chase after a female coyote.
  • Bring pets inside at night and when coyotes are heard or seen. Do not leave small pets unsupervised outside.
  • Do not keep cat litter boxes outside or discard used cat litter on the ground.

Mating and Denning Seasons

You may see and hear coyotes more often during mating and denning seasons. It is currently the peak of denning season, which begins in May and lasts through the end of summer. During denning season, coyotes may be more visible, vocal, and territorial as breeding pairs defend their dens and pups. To protect their pups, coyotes may attempt to “escort” you and your pets away from the vicinity of their den. Once you’ve left their territory, coyotes will typically turn away and leave.

When on walks potentially near a den: 

  • Always leash pets while walking or hiking. Do not use a retractable leash.
  • Carry a whistle, can with rocks, or other noisemakers.
  • Dispose of any trash or pet waste in secured containers.
  • Take note if your pets seem nervous or frightened as they may smell a coyote nearby.

If you encounter a coyote:

  • Keep a safe distance.
  • Keep small children and pets close to you.
  • Avoid direct eye contact.
  • Attempt to leave the area calmly.
  • Back away slowly while facing the coyote. Do not turn your back, and do not run.
  • Make yourself look bigger by lifting and waving arms or holding your bag/backpack above your head.
  • Make loud noises by clapping, whistling, yelling, or using other noise makers.
  • Allow the coyote to move away on its own. 
  • If a person was bitten or scratched by the coyote, call 9-1-1 and seek medical attention.

Report Coyote Sightings and Issues

Please report coyote sightings and/or aggressive coyote behavior to Santa Clara County Vector Control.

Phone: 408.918.4770

If a coyote appears to be sick or injured, do not approach. Call the Wildlife Center of Silicon Valley at 408.929.9453 or Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority at 408.764.0344.

For a coyote attack in progress, dial 9-1-1.