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Recently there has been an increasing number of questions from residents regarding the number of coyotes sighted in Sunfish Lake. As a result, the City Council invited Bob Fashingbauer, the Area Wildlife Supervisor for DNR out of Rosemount (651-322-4643) to present information on coyotes to Council members and citizens at the March 4, 2020 Council meeting. The following is a brief synopsis of his presentation.


  • The average coyote is 18 inches tall and weighs 30 pounds but can appear much larger in the winter due to their fur coat.
  • Most coyotes live less than 2 years in the wild, though one animal is known to have reached 13 years of age.
  • They can run up to 43 mph and are very intelligent and adaptable and are great balancers of the ecosystem.
  • There are 2 types:
    • Transient - usually loners looking for new territory and are roaming.
    • Residents - family groups of 5-6 adults plus pups.
  • Monogamous and breed from December through March.
    • Gestation period 60-63 days - typically 4-7 pups.
    • Stay in den up to 6 weeks and are self-sufficient around 6-9 months.
  • Their diet is small rodents (mice and rats) gophers, rabbits, roadkill deer, insects and fruit.
  • Coyotes can thrive in a small territory if there is enough food and shelter, but if not, they will expand the size of their territory to include enough places to hunt for food to sustain themselves. The size of an urban coyote’s range is dependent on the abundance of food and can be anywhere from 2 square miles to 10 square miles or more.
  • Coyotes do their best to hide their dens and will often have multiple dens and multiple entrances to a den to help conceal their activity. These dens are usually tucked away in shrubbery or the wooded patches of parks, washes, culverts, golf courses, preserves and similar spaces.
  • It is normal for a coyote to hunt during the day; but urban coyotes have made a behavior change to avoid humans, switching from being active at dawn and dusk or during daylight hours, to being mostly active at night. The strategy lowers the risk of encountering the species of which they are naturally afraid while still hunting in an urban territory. However, it is not unusual to see a coyote during the day; especially in the spring and summer when raising their pups and they need to find more food. Urban residents frequently misinterpret daytime sightings as a rise in the urban coyote population or that the coyote could be rabid, neither of which are usually true.
  • They will attack and kill small dogs and cats for two reasons; one is to defend their territory especially during the breeding season and secondly, they may view small dogs and cats as prey. Best to keep small pets on leash or be present when they are outside.
  • It is extremely rare that a coyote attacks a human.
  • There are less than 6 reported coyote bites per year versus 4.7 million reported dog bites annually. Bob emphasized they are far more afraid of us than we are of them!
  • He states the best option to keep them under control is hazing and showing the coyote that they should be afraid of humans.
  • “Be big” by raising arms and shouting; throw objects at them; blow a whistle or spray them with water.
  • Do not run; you will look like prey.
  • Keep hazing until the coyote has left the area. Consistent hazing is effective and everyone must do it. Naturally, do not haze a sick or cornered animal.
  • Children should be loud and call for an adult or slowly move towards an adult - DO NOT RUN!
  • Bob indicates the biggest problem is when someone decides to feed coyotes which serves to entice them into an area.


The Council was considering using the Bow Hunters Association to hunt local coyotes, which by state law can be killed. Most of us were surprised to find that studies indicate killing does not work well to control coyotes. The reason being that coyotes typically have 4 to 7 pups; but if other coyote competition is eliminated in an area, they will adapt by having up to 15 pups. However, Bob was supportive of permitting our bow hunters during the deer harvest season to also hunt coyotes. He congratulated SFL for the effective deer harvesting we do as he indicated it is quite successful and leads to a healthier and reduced deer herd. Regardless of what we do, we all may continue to witness that occasional 1:00 a.m. coyote howling!





We are a small community proud of our heritage and committed to the preservation of our pristine, rural character. We cherish our privacy, yet know we are part of a thriving Dakota County and the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area. With these partnerships in mind, we strive to preserve that unique spirit which is Sunfish Lake, Minnesota.