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Idaho Fish and Game

Homeowners and recreationists: Be vigilant during coyote mating and denning seasons


Risk of coyote-dog conflicts increases between February and June

With February comes the coyote breeding season, which can mean an increase in conflicts between coyotes and domestic dogs in the Boise area. With that in mind, Fish and Game biologists are reminding residents and recreationists around the Boise Foothills and elsewhere to take additional precautions with their pets to reduce the risk.

Conflicts between coyotes and domestic dogs can occur at any time of year, and coyotes can always pose a risk to dogs in situations where coyotes see them as either a prey source or competition. But that risk increases between late February and June.

“As with any wildlife species, it’s not uncommon for coyotes to become more aggressive and territorial during their breeding season – particularly toward other canine species, and more rarely towards humans,” said Ryan Walrath, Regional Wildlife Manager. “In our area, coyote breeding season typically occurs between February and March, and that increased territoriality often continues into the denning season and throughout the spring as coyotes are rearing pups.” 

In each of the past three years during the breeding and denning seasons, the Southwest Region Office has received reports of incidents involving coyotes and domestic dogs at various locations in the foothills, including several at Hulls Gulch and the Military Reserve. Both areas and feature trails that are popular with hikers and have homes nearby, and the areas also provide preferred denning habitat for coyotes – all of which creates a lot of potential for conflict.

“To put it simply, if you’re living or recreating here, you should expect to encounter coyotes,” Walrath said. “Fortunately, in many cases, you can adjust a few of your own behaviors to reduce the odds of an encounter turning into a dangerous situation for your pet or yourself.”


Fish and Game strongly recommends keeping dogs on leash on all Boise Foothill trails – even trails where dogs are permitted to be off-leash – between the months of March and June. If you’re in an area that has had recurring incidents involving dog-aggressive coyotes, such as Hulls Gulch and the Military Reserve, you might want to err on the side of caution and leash your dog on these trails earlier than that. 

“This can help minimize the risk, because a human near a leashed dog is typically a strong deterrent,” Walrath said. “But being on leash doesn’t absolutely guarantee a territorial coyote won’t cause problems with a dog.”

If there has been a recent incident involving dog-aggressive coyotes in a particular area, Fish and Game recommends avoiding that area altogether for a period of a few weeks. Idaho Fish and Game’s Southwest Region will notify the public when coyote incidents occur, including on social media and the Southwest Region webpage.

While Fish and Game most commonly gets reports of coyote incidents on the wildland-urban interface, conflicts can occur just about anywhere. Coyotes are highly adaptable animals that can be found living and denning in city parks or along urban river corridors, which have good cover for hiding and abundant prey species. 

Coyotes are generally active at night, although they can be spotted during the day. They are naturally fearful of humans but may become more comfortable if given easy access to human food, garbage, pet food and small domestic pets.

Here are some additional steps recreationists and homeowners can take to keep their pets safe and prevent coyotes from becoming habituated to humans: 


  • Remove or secure attractants, such as pet food, trash or dog feces.
  • If you have a potential living food source for coyotes, such as chickens, secure their coops with wire mesh fences at least five feet high.
  • Don’t leave your dog outside unsupervised.
  • If possible, ensure your property boundaries are secure by keeping fences in good repair and letting your dogs out for bathroom breaks only in fenced areas, particularly at night. The American Kennel Club recommends solid fences of at least 6-feet tall, and buried in the ground at least 18 inches, and says that “coyote rollers” can provide additional deterrence.
  • If your property is not fenced, turn on outside lights and make noise before letting your dog outside, and consider taking your dog out on a lead for nighttime bathroom breaks.
  • Clear away brushy areas around your property that coyotes may see as safe denning or hiding spots.


  • Keep dogs on lead when using foothill trail systems.
  • If you know that an area has recently experienced dog-coyote encounters, consider using a different section of the Boise foothills that is open to recreation.
  • Consider bringing a loud noisemaker with you – a whistle, bell or horn – which can be helpful in scaring off a coyote.
  • Another option is carrying bear spray, and knowing how to use it. It’s not just for bears and can also be used as a highly effective tool against other mammals if an unsafe wildlife encounter occurs.
  • When hiking, make noise to announce yousr presence. Coyotes are leerier around humans
  • Be present, and aware of your surroundings and your dog.
  • Should you come into close contact with a coyote displaying aggressive behavior, follow these suggestions:
    • Do not approach
    • Do not run
    • Face the coyote, wave your arms slowly, and speak in a loud voice
    • Back away slowly, giving the coyote opportunity to escape
    • Maintain eye contact at all times
    • Fight back if attacked