Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Get Updates:  Twitter  |   Facebook  |  RSS Feeds RSS Feed
Posted at 9:38 AM ET, 03/ 3/2011

Report: Coyotes in D.C. area are here to stay

By Washington Post Editors

A coyote in New Jersey. (AP)

Sightings of coyotes are becoming increasingly common in parts of the D.C. area and some biologists say the animals are here to stay, according to a report on WAMU.

Since they first appeared around 2004, coyotes have been found in Rock Creek Park in D.C., near Lake Thoreau in Reston and even in Baltimore. The animals are not native to the Mid-Atlantic, but they have been able to thrive here because we have eliminated their top predators, according to a Wildlife Society official quoted in the story.

If the idea of coyotes roaming our area makes you a bit apprehensive, you may want to skip this next part: The local breed is known as the eastern coyote, which is about 50 pounds larger than the western coyote, according to the report.

What's more the animals will eat anything from garbage to small pets. In 2004, a coyote attacked two small dogs as a woman walked them near the Falls Church Metro station. The Wildlife Society official said the coyotes could even attack children.

"We need to instill that fear back in them, we need to be big and bad, and make a lot of noise...Wave your arms around, scream," the Wildlife Society official told WAMU.

On the plus side, coyotes can keep down the rat and deer population, the official said.

Talk to us: Are you excited or scared about the prospect of our new "neighbors"? Do you think coyotes will be a threat or a benefit? Weigh in below in the comments.

By Washington Post Editors  | March 3, 2011; 9:38 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: A.M. Buzz: Cherry blossoms, Charlie Sheen
Next: A.M. Buzz: Metro closures, rain, nurses strike


There have never been Grizzly Bears in this area. If anything, I would say over-development on the East Coast... most likely the north New York, Pennsylvania (especially were they are fracking for natural gas) has driven them out and they are trying to find new places to live. As for predators, mountain lions populations have declined. Black bear populations aren't on the decline though.... not sure if they eat coyotes though. I'm sure man was the biggest threat to these animals and since hunters are on the decline their populations are finally recovering after many decades. You might want to remove Grizzly Bears from the article though, as they are native to Alaska and Canada

Posted by: gtothreg | March 3, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

This article should have been much better. Here's a link to the National Zoo article on the same subject - much more info for those interested -

A few fact problems: (1) grizzlies have never been in this area, so they would not have been a reason for coyotes not being in this area, (2) the only real predators of a coyote are wolves, a fact missing in the article, (3) you fail to even mention that coyotes are becoming quite comfortable in the cities (even NY) living as street dogs hunting rats, cats and scrounging garbage cans, so folks may expect to see them anywhere, not just Rock Creek Park, (4) Coyotes will hunt pets and elementary age children (under 10), even in cities, though attacks are rare, (5) Eastern coyotes come down from Canada and are larger than western coyotes most likely due to having bred with wolves.

Posted by: jamadan | March 3, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

One additional comment:

Coyotes in the park will provide a beneficial service of keeping deer population in check. But allowing them to get comfortable around man but leaving them alone in the nieghborhoods is a big mistake. There should be a community effort to be aware of coyotes and report them so they can be chased out or killed if they make their homes in people's yards or alleys.

Posted by: jamadan | March 3, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

We've had coyotes in our neighborhood (Falls Church) for at least 3 years that I know of. I've seen them many times. Our dogs go insane whenever one passes by our house at night. I've heard coyotes calling back and forth, too, and it is a very eerie sound that never fails to send the cats into hiding even though they are safe indoors. I was going to report a coyote sighting to the county the first time we saw one, but Fairfax Co's Web site said, basically, don't bother because we know they are here and they are here to stay.

Our cats are indoors cats and I never let the terrier out into the backyard unsupervised at night, even for a few minutes. The collies I assume would be okay but we still supervise them too when they go out at night. Better safe than sorry.

Posted by: FallsChurchGrl | March 3, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Correction needed: The WAMU story reports that eastern coyotes weigh 50 pounds, not 50 pounds more than western coyotes, which weigh 30 pounds.

Posted by: aapike86 | March 3, 2011 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I think the biologist quoted was referring to grizzly bears in any areas where coyotes have been found, or where they would have prevented coyotes from entering. I don't think she was talking about grizzly bears in Washington D.C.

Posted by: jasphen | March 3, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Another reason why suburban coyotes are larger than coyotes in the wilderness is because trash cans and cats are a great source of food. A coyote can easily jump a 6 foot fence to snatch your dog or cat out of the backyard. Coyotes in the wilderness are really skinny because they have to scrounge more for food.

Posted by: buffysummers | March 3, 2011 3:06 PM | Report abuse

I've seen one in Columbia, MD. Foxes too are becoming more urbanized. As long as they eat rats & thin the deer herd, more power too them. When they start feeding on little Muffy or the kids, we need to be vigilant.

Posted by: cyberfool | March 3, 2011 3:26 PM | Report abuse

About three weeks ago on a Sunday night at about 9:45pm, my wife and I headed to the Palisades CVS on McArthur Blvd.

We drove down Garfield St. NW to 49th where Battery Kemble Park is. Going down 49th St. about a half mile we saw this really cute dog. He was about 50-60 pounds, beautiful coat and bushy tail with no collar on.

We thought it was lost so we called out to it. The pooch freaked out and ran about a hundred yards away. Anyway, we decided to head to CVS.

On our way back home up 49th St., we saw the cute dog again. He was checking out a doughnut in the middle of the street.

This time, I really wanted to help the dog so I stopped the car and got out to see if I could get him into my car and bring him home. Then I would call the Humane Society in the morning.

But the dog was really spooked by me and when I tried to get closer to him he freaked and ran off in to Battery Kemble.

The next day I recalled that while walking my dog the day before a man had told me about coyotes being around the neighborhood and Glover Park. So I googled "coyotes in DC" and got a link to the National Park Service.

As soon as the site came up there was an almost exact picture of the "dog" I tried to "save."

Posted by: NyallsStJohnSmytheIV | March 3, 2011 3:37 PM | Report abuse

About comeback of large carnivores you could read at There are nice images of wolves etc.

Posted by: ThomasJohnsonJR1981 | March 3, 2011 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Took a tour of the Anacostia River and the guide stated they have seen Coyotes along that corridor as well.

Posted by: simplewords999 | March 3, 2011 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hands - walkin through the streets of SoHo in the rain.

He was lookin for a place called Lee Ho Fook.

Gonna get a big dish of beef chow mein!

Posted by: tcs1999 | March 3, 2011 9:12 PM | Report abuse

More seriously, though, I have seen two Coyotes in NWDC, both late at night:

1. on McKinley along the CVS at Connecticut

2. in an alley off the 2800 block of Wisconsin Avenue. It jumped a frickin ten-foot wall like a deer.

Posted by: tcs1999 | March 3, 2011 9:17 PM | Report abuse

There's a beautiful coyote in our neighborhood off Edsall Road inside the beltway. He's wild and froze when my dog barked like crazy, but he tried to attack two pug dogs who were playing at the edge of the woods. Luckily the pugs' owner was right there and chased him off. I'm glad this predator is in our ecosystem - we need more like him.

Posted by: AdventurerVA | March 4, 2011 12:26 AM | Report abuse

I can't wait to shoot one

Posted by: melador | March 4, 2011 2:31 AM | Report abuse

Coyotes run with their tail held low behind their legs.

Posted by: ronjaboy | March 4, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

You won't believe this, but a coyote actually followed me and my black labrador on the grounds of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. near Union Station in late November 2010.

To clarify, I am deaf and have a service dog that is a black labrador and weighs 60 pounds. We had just ridden the red-line metro from Glenmont into D.C. and gotten off at Union Station. From there, we walked to the Capitol Building path.

By the way, I have two super-bright cat-eye flashlights that I always use and my dog is outfitted with a brightly-lit collar that makes her look like an aircraft landing with huge strobes of white, red, and blue lights flashing onto the pavement!

We are big walkers who walk an average of 10-15 miles daily so we see lots of wild creatures, but this was my very first sighting of a coyote. This was at 11:00PM on a Sunday night in late November.

We were walking along the path that loops around the Capitol Building to the Mall when my dog heard a presence behind us. It was a large coyote (65 pounds) on the path following us at a distance of 10 feet away. At first, I thought it was a large fox, but this creature was very confident and brazen. It was not the least bit shy or timid as a fox normally would be. Alarmed, I raised my arms, yelled, and charged at the coyote. It ran off, but promptly returned and continued to follow us at the same distance/pace. My dog and I increased our pace and we hurried down the path. The coyote did the same. I turned around and again raised my arms, yelled, and charged at the coyote. It ran off, but returned immediately and continued to follow us. At that point, we broke into a trot and sped down the path. The coyote matched our pace and continued to follow behind us. Once we reached the parking lot next to the Capitol reflecting pool, the coyote stopped and stared at us as we disappeared into the night.

At that time, I thought it was a big fox and didn't think to report it to the Capitol Police. But then in late December, I saw a similarly sized coyote in my parents' heavily wooded Olney neighborhood. We were walking up the street at 11:30PM when we noticed a large animal with a bushy tail dash across a cul-de-sac 50 feet ahead. The coyote disappeared into the darkness of the forest, but emerged when we rounded the cul-de-sac and it watched us at a distance of 15 feet.

That's when I did some research on the Internet and compared pictures of foxes and coyotes and it dawned on me that I had seen coyotes in D.C. and in my parents' Maryland neighborhood!

I've now started carrying a small club to defend my black labrador dog should any coyote dare attack us.

Owners with small dogs are probably more susceptible to an attack. So they should take care to arm themselves with any kind of weapon, especially a flash-light, tennis racquet, badminton racquet, baseball bat, tree branch, and/or pepper spray.

Keep a watchful eye out for coyotes! Good luck!

Posted by: | March 4, 2011 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Let's scare people by misreporting the size of the Eastern coyote, why don't we... I just love the accuracy of The Washington Post: "If the idea of coyotes roaming our area makes you a bit apprehensive, you may want to skip this next part: The local breed is known as the eastern coyote, which is about 50 pounds larger than the western coyote, according to the report." In fact, if The Post had read the Wildlife Society's report with a bit more comprehension, perhaps it would have reported it like they did: "This new, eastern coyote is bigger -- up to 50 pounds versus 30 pounds out West." Next time, maybe I'll just "skip" the Post altogether..... It's also reporting that this that brings out people like Melador that "can't wait to shoot one".....idiot.....

Posted by: anon57 | March 4, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

A correction is needed! Eastern coyotes can weigh up to 50 pounds (but usually only between 30-45 pounds), not "50 pounds larger than the western coyote," as written. Check for good, scientific info.
--Coyotes HELP the ecosystem by eating rodents, insects, rabbits and smaller mammals (like skunks) that prey on song birds and Bobwhite Quail.
--Our neighborhoods need to learn to coexist with coyotes, the smartest, most adaptable animal in the woods.
--Coyote bites are rare! We are far more likely to be bitten by a neighborhood dog. Domestic dogs send 1000 people A DAY to U.S. emergency rooms.
--If a coyote approaches, pick up your small pet and shout, clap your hands, blow a whistle, open an umbrella or spray a garden hose.
-- Here are some tips to coexist with coyotes:
--Don't let pets wander, especially at night. They are more likely to be hit by a car, poisoned, or snatched by a person, but a coyote attack can happen. If your pet stays outside, fence your yard. Also consider a horizontal apron at the fence bottom to prevent burrowing by predators.
--Keep coyotes wild! Never feed them and never leave pet food outside.
--Put tightly covered trash out on collection day only.
--Walk dogs on leashes.
--Remove birdseed underneath feeders. It attracts rodents and they attract coyotes.

Posted by: whydothat | March 4, 2011 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Well, you folks had better lock up your pets and keep your children inside, because the DC Council has outlawed every effective tool currently in use today to capture and control urban coyotes. The DC Wildilfe Protection Act of 2010 prohibits professional, trained wildlife control businesses from using the only proven and effective methods, and forces them to use wire cage traps that are wholly inefficient.

One research study from Mass found that the trappers were able to catch one adult coyote in cage for every 371 nights that traps were set. The study also found that: "Box traps were undesirable to use for capturing coyotes because of trap expense, time involved in baiting and conditioning coyotes to traps, the high rate of nontarget captures, and the fact that it was difficult to capture >1 adult in a social group."

For you mathematically challenged folks, that is one adult coyote in a cage trap in a year. I don't care how rich you are, no one is willing to pay a service company to tend traps at your home every day for a year. Think about it -- would you hire a plumber to come out every day for a year and mop water, and then let him fix the leaky pipe after 371 service calls? Well, that is what the DC Counci expects you to do going forward -- Unless you want to do it yourself...

That's right. In their infinite wisdom, they will allow every inexperienced, untrained homeowner and property manager to use the tools of professional wildlife managers and trappers. There are techniques and tools available that can minimize and prevent the non-target catch of pets and other wildlife. I just wouldn't expect your neighbors to know how to do it.

So, have at it. Go out and trap those coyotes in your backyards, and when you catch one, let everyone know what you are going to do with it.

Here's a hint - you can't take it to any Federal property to release it, that's against the law. You can't take it to VA or MD, because they don't want them and crossing the border with any live animals is also against the law. You could euthanize it, but only if you understand and comply the standards of the American Veternarian Medical Association, and you can't very well shoot it, either. I guess you could take it to the Washington Humane Society or DC Animal Care and Control but they probably won't kill it, so hope that they release it to "a safe location where nuisance problems are unlikely to occur" that is far enough away in DC so that the coyote doesn't get back home before you do. Maybe a rehabber? Nope, not an option. DC does not have license for wildlife rehabiliatation and no wildlife rehabilitation facility exist within DC.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Make sure that the none of the coyote's family members are still around because you must make every effort to keep the gang together. It's all about family reunion strategies.

Why do y'all elect these people?

Posted by: wildlifepro | March 5, 2011 12:10 PM | Report abuse

In 2007, on my way home from a baseball game one night, I saw a coyote standing by the side of the Parkway next to National Airport. He or she literally had the long, pointy face of Wiley E. Coyote. I was very excited by this sighting because I'd never seen one in Virginia before. We just need to be as smart around them as everyone is out West, because they absolutely will pick off your small dog or cat.

Now that I live in Norfolk, Va., I'm hoping they will migrate to this part of the state. There are tons of rats for them to feed on in my West Ghent neighborhood...

Posted by: NatsFan92 | March 5, 2011 11:15 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company