Many people panic when they hear the howls and yips of their coyote neighbors. They often believe these sounds mean that they, or their pets, are in danger.
Don’t worry! Although it’s always best to keep small pets properly contained, a coyote who is howling isn’t trying to announce that it’s about to eat you or anyone else. There’s no need to run inside or batten down the hatches or warn everyone in your neighborhood.
Coyotes are around us all the time without causing us any harm. Whether you hear them or not, they are present in our neighborhoods and parks. When you hear them howl, it isn’t because they only just migrated to your neighborhood or because they’re searching for food— they’ve been there all along, and you just happened to notice them singing.
Coyotes howl and yip not to announce to their food that they plan to eat it (who would scare away their dinner?) but to communicate with one another. A coyote may howl to bond with family, meet up with a friend or relative, or warn territorial rivals that this land is taken. Like most other predators, coyotes hunt silently by sneaking up on their prey.
Coyotes live in small family groups typically containing just two to five individuals, but use auditory illusions to make themselves sound like a large, intimidating pack. Just one mated pair might sound like a dozen or more animals! This is one of the reasons that people are often alarmed by their calls.
Enjoy listening to your coyote neighbors as they communicate with each other. There’s no reason to worry!