Brian Moss, owner of AAAC Wildlife Removal of Houston, said many people assume that coyotes are only a problem in the countryside when they are everywhere in the Greater Houston area.
“They tend to be where waterways are, where there’s woods,” he said. “The cities are growing, and there’s less of these spaces for the coyotes to be, so they’re kind of pushed into the areas we are not developing, which are the reservoirs, parks, canals and creeks.”
Moss recently completed a trapping job on Buffalo Bayou near River Oaks. Buffalo Bayou and the Addicks Reservoir are two big bodies of water that attract coyotes located and found in Houston.
“If someone is seeing a coyote during the day, especially in weather like this, that tends to be some kind of illness or sickness – maybe manage, distemper or rabies – or an issue with its pack,” Moss said. “They are mostly nocturnal around urban areas because that is when you see fewer people around.”
Urban coyotes are classified as “nuisance animals” – animals that threaten human health or safety – in Texas, meaning they have no legal protection. However, capturing and relocating coyotes is illegal because they are rabies vectors. They typically are euthanized once professional trappers capture them.
Moss suggests to people who come across one, especially one that may be territorial or aggressive, to call the sheriff’s department, animal control or a wildlife animal trapping service, like AAAC.
He said the general public should not try to catch or trap a coyote, nor should they attempt to shoot it within city limits, even if they are on their personal property, as that is illegal.
According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, coyote attacks on people are extremely rare – although not unheard of – as coyotes usually avoid people or run off when they notice humans around them.
The general public should not try to catch or trap a coyote, nor should they attempt to shoot it within city limits, even if they are on their personal property, as that is illegal.
Sightings of a coyote acting appropriately and non-aggressively do not require a response. However, these animals can become habituated to an area, and they may act up if this occurs.
A coyote may already be habituated if seen on streets and yards at night or earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon during daylight hours. Another tell-tale sign is if the animal is approaching adults or taking pets and attacking them within proximity of their owners.
Moss said if a resident is walking their dog and comes across a calm and mild-mannered coyote, the person should secure their pet first and slowly back away from the area they are in.
A person can attempt to "haze" coyotes who have grown used to having humans around, by being a bit aggressive, to discourage their presence and re-establish fear in humans. This could include making loud noises, waving hands, stomping feet, making big body movements, spraying water, or throwing small objects at the animal, as the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department suggests.
To avoid attracting coyotes, the department recommends keeping pet food and pets inside, securely storing garbage, managing vegetation (especially if it is a plant with fruits or vegetables) and never intentionally feeding any wildlife.
Moss said it is always smart to have a plan and know who to call for help when encountering a wild animal. “These aren’t dogs; they’re not friendly. They’re wild animals,” he said. “If you find one, don’t get near it; it's not your pet.”
To report or get assistance when spotting a coyote, you can call:
The Texas Wildlife Services Office at 210-472-5451 (Main Office)
The Texas Wildlife Services (Houston line) at 713-468-8972