Like domestic dogs, both coyotes and red foxes test their limits around humans. Each encounter teaches them  something new, and without negative reinforcements, they can develop aggressive habits. A coyote may start to regularly move through residential areas or around parks or schools, walk down streets or sidewalks, bask in yards or parks, decrease the distance between itself and humans or pets, or chase or attack pets during the day, even those on leashes or near their owners.

Aggressiveness Towards People

Bold behaviors do not necessarily mean that it will become aggressive toward people, but a coyote or red fox that maintains its fear of humans will be less likely to cause problems in general. Still, some people are concerned that coyotes and red foxes are a threat, but attacks on humans are rare.

For perspective, it is worth noting that there has not been 1 documented case of a coyote biting a human in DuPage county whereas roughly 900 people are bitten by domestic dogs in DuPage each year.


Encounter Tips

  • If you encounter a coyote or red fox, be confident and bold. Make loud noises, and make yourself look larger by raising your hands above your head or flaring your jacket wide open to let the coyote know you are “top dog.”
  • Do not be submissive, turn your back or run.
  • If you are uncomfortable, leave the area calmly, facing them as you leave.
  • If walking on trails frequented by coyotes or red foxes, carry a deterrent, such as an air horn, whistle, walking stick or cane.
  • Always keep yourself between them and children or pets.
  • If you are followed by a coyote, you are likely walking through its territory, and it is merely escorting or “shadowing” you to make sure you are not a threat.
  • Although unlikely, if you encounter aggressive behavior, throw clods of earth or sticks near the ground by the coyote first and then, if necessary, toward its body, never at its head.
  • Report aggressive behavior in a forest preserve to the Forest Preserve District at 630-933-7200. Report encounters on private property to your local municipality.
  • For more information on living with coyotes or red foxes, visit the University of Illinois Extension: Living with Wildlife in Illinois' website.
  • For general information on coyotes, visit the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County's website.
  • Learn about how to live with urban coyotes. View the video Being Coyote Wise: Living with Urban Coyotes
  • The Cook County Coyote Project