Where have all the coyotes gone? If you’ve seen/heard any in West Seattle, researcher needs your help

2016-7-6-7039-Coyote in yard(2016 photo by Trileigh Tucker)

Here on WSB, our wildlife coverage used to include coyote reports (archived here) – not as warnings, but to raise awareness that they share the peninsula with us. Or – shared. It’s been a long time since we’ve received a coyote report, and despite living near multiple greenbelts, we haven’t heard or seen any lately either. We’ve wondered from time to time if they’ve truly dwindled here, or whether we’re just not hearing (about) them. Then we got a note from researcher Sam Kreling, a UW Ph.D. student, who is leading a study of Seattle’s coyote population. Kreling not only noticed our lack of recent coyote reports but added, “I’ve been attempting to find coyote scat in West Seattle for my research and haven’t really had any luck over the last couple of months.” The research is a collaboration between UW and the Woodland Park Zoo, “studying Seattle’s coyote population through non-invasive methods, aimed at understanding their diet, limit conflict, and their population demographics,” because “there have only been really limited insights to Seattle’s coyotes and much is still unknown about urban carnivores in general, so this study aims to help understand urban carnivores as a whole, and Seattle’s specific population of coyotes.” They’ve been working on it for almost a year, and when complete, they hppe the study will “inform Seattle management decisions on coyotes, identify regions that may be more prone to human-coyote conflict than others, and increase the general scientific knowledge surrounding urban wildlife.” So if you have any West Seattle leads for researchers, email seattlecoyotestudy@gmail.com.

67 Replies to "Where have all the coyotes gone? If you've seen/heard any in West Seattle, researcher needs your help"

  • Auntie July 27, 2021 (1:22 pm)

    We live in the Longfellow Creek greenbelt east of the cemetary and used to see or hear coyotes traipsing through our back yard. Have not seen or heard one for at least three years now.

  • Observer July 27, 2021 (1:26 pm)

    The apparent rabbit population of West Seattle would seem to indicate the coyotes have disappeared. 

  • JK July 27, 2021 (1:37 pm)

    We have noticed bunny rabbits everywhere in Seattle this past couple of years. I see some almost every day in West Seattle and I can’t recall ever seeing any in years past.  I keep thinking that there must not be enough predators (coyotes?) as the bunnies are out day and night.

  • Gebus July 27, 2021 (2:05 pm)

    They used to be all over Camp Long I would hear them every night from my yard on 35th but have moved to Arbor Heights, so not so sure anymore but yes rabbits are everywhere now.

  • jay freeborne July 27, 2021 (2:12 pm)

    We live on a greenbelt in Admiral District.  The last time we heard a coyote was in 2015/2016. Nothing since.  We were wondering where they went!

  • junctioneer July 27, 2021 (2:18 pm)

    Used to hear them all the time howling in Fairmount Ravine. Haven’t heard them in several years and have been hoping for a population update. Also the bunny population has been huge. Sad to see them disappear.

  • datamuse July 27, 2021 (2:40 pm)

    It’s been a couple of years since I saw any, and the ones I saw didn’t look healthy. I’m very familiar with coyote tracks and sign so I will look for it when I’m out and about.

  • Wseattleite July 27, 2021 (2:55 pm)

    I believe it was 2017 in which I last saw a coyote in WS.  It was in the cemetery near the Home Depot.  All of the coyotes I had seen within the year before that seemed quite emaciated.

  • Dave July 27, 2021 (2:59 pm)

    We had a pack in Fauntleroy Woods 7 years ago. Saw several and heard them howl every time a fire truck took Barton. Have not heard or seen them in several years. Rabbit and Barred Owls are still abundant though. Also seeing more raccoons. 

  • Ben Oleson July 27, 2021 (3:11 pm)

    :(   Schmitz Park used to have foxes when we moved here.

  • ttt July 27, 2021 (3:19 pm)

    It has been 3 years since we have seen any. Now I see bunnies everywhere and I am sure the rat population has gone up too.

  • Friend of Coyotes and Bunnies July 27, 2021 (3:25 pm)

    The coyotes looked mangy and skinny before they disappeared completely from Arbor Heights and Fauntleroy a couple years ago.  At the same time all the Missing Cat telephone pole posters came down.  Wondering whether the coyotes may have been poisoned or shot?  There needs to be a happy medium.  Now the rabbits have completely taken over Lincoln Park and neighborhood gardens.

    • Pelicans July 27, 2021 (9:25 pm)

      The last coyote I remember seeing was a poor mangy one near Admiral and Lander several years ago. He had no fur at all and was kind of limping along. He didn’t look like he could have caught anything to eat if he tried. Saw a rabbit for the first time in 22 years on south Alki Point a couple of weeks ago.

      • Rose De Dan July 28, 2021 (12:00 pm)

        I think we saw the same coyote. I had just left my house on foot, saying good-bye to my cat in passing who was sitting on the sidewalk. I was heading across the street when I saw a young boy walking on the sidewalk toward me. There was a dog walking several feet behind him. A really mangy looking dog…no leash…as he crossed the street I realized he was a coyote and immediately turned to check on my cat. The sad looking coyote walked down the middle of Lander Street while my cat froze in place. When the coyote was past, Manitou booked it to the back door and demanded that I let him in the house, which I gladly did. I have not seen another since coyote since.

  • Also John July 27, 2021 (3:40 pm)

    Same with Racoons……..I used to get them around my home daily.  I haven’t seen any in 6 months.

    • Joan July 27, 2021 (8:16 pm)

      Exactly my thoughts! I used to find fresh raccoon scat in my yard almost daily, up to a couple years ago. Now, nothing! Haven’t seen or heard a coyote either probably in 5-6 years.

      • Yma July 27, 2021 (9:51 pm)

        Come to my house – the Raccoon Highway is still open.I’d been saying since Spring, with so many bunnies – it won’t be long until the coyotes show up. Apparently I got it wrong – we have so many bunnies because there are no coyotes showing up.

    • Derek July 28, 2021 (11:43 am)

      Get raccoons nightly in 35/Andover area. Camera catches them all night. 

  • waikikigirl July 27, 2021 (3:41 pm)

       We live above Seola Greenbelt and used to hear them howling all the time but haven’t in the past 4 years or so. No missing cat posters posted on utility poles anymore either, Thank God!

  • ITotallyAgreeWithYou July 27, 2021 (3:46 pm)

    After a lifetime in WS, I recently moved to Queen Anne and am hearing many reports here and on Magnolia of coyote sightings. Could they have migrated a bit? Long termers have said they’ve always been in those locales so not new but maybe more?

  • Crash July 27, 2021 (3:48 pm)

    I used to see several frequently off Highland Park Way, but not in some time.  

  • Ecosystem off-balance July 27, 2021 (3:55 pm)

    Several coyote packs / dens used to be in several parts of West Seattle, normally in the established Greenbelt areas.  As the coyote numbers dwindled the rabbit numbers increased and have kept growing because the coyote’s have largely left West Seattle.  I believe the timing of the reduction in coyote sightings coincides with the increased number of humans that have taken to long-term camping in the Greenbelts across Seattle.  Correlation is not causation but I believe that the number of unsheltered in Seattle is having knock on effects on urban wildlife in many ways.  For more information about coyotes see: http://www.projectcoyote.org/carnivores/coyote/ (I don’t believe the decrease in our coyote population is due to hunting as is the case in other areas of North America.)

    • Edina July 27, 2021 (7:38 pm)

      Good point. Thanks for the link. There are many rabbits in my area and also raccoons. It would be nice to have coyotes back in the greenbelts and parks. 

    • DM July 27, 2021 (10:24 pm)

      Lifelong resident here. I agree there might be a correlation. I used to see them fairly regularly in the greenbelt and wooded parts of West Seattle where there have recently been tents or piles of litter. It was almost a guarantee to see them after 11pm by Lincoln Park or Pelly Place. I’ve even been surrounded by a small pack before… I’m surprised at how many others here have also noticed a decline. I have a migration theory: perhaps with less foot/road traffic during the pandemic and more crowding in the wooded areas, they found opportunities to find a way off of this island.

  • Blong Thao July 27, 2021 (4:24 pm)

    Spotted a coyote at Seward Park on 7/25/2021.

  • Mj July 27, 2021 (4:26 pm)

    Interesting inquiry, the rabbit population has certainly increased.  I heard that people were complaining about their pets disappearing at night, keeping pets indoors eliminates the issue, and the Coyotes were removed????

  • Genesee Neighbor July 27, 2021 (4:42 pm)

    Adding to the community-sourced dataset – we have lived in W Sea for 16 years.  We are adjacent to a greenbelt.  Hearing coyotes used to be a regular occurrence.  Even saw a fox trot across the yard the year we moved in.  Haven’t seen or heard coyotes in at least three years.   My strawberry plants, beloved by the bunnies, would be grateful to see the coyotes return.   Not a surprise that no scat has been found, though I would assume that if the packs died out, bones could be found near previously used dens?  Also would note that urban density has accelerated over the same time period.

    • ARPigeonPoint July 27, 2021 (9:34 pm)

      I was thinking the same thing. The greenspaces on our street have been filled up with multiple buildings on each lot. Those are the areas in which we used to see coyotes. 

  • Not A Coyote July 27, 2021 (4:55 pm)

    We last saw a coyote in West Seattle on April 7th, 2019. Haven’t seen them since.

  • Vlad July 27, 2021 (5:49 pm)

    A neighbor of ours discovered a dead coyote while clearing out some brush on the 4100 block of SW Orchard Street a few months ago.  It was in an old metal container where it apparently went to die some time ago (months or years). I’m not sure what they did with the remains, they would have been useful for research purposes.   After years of regular visits, I have not seen any coyotes at least two years.   The last one I saw was very sick with mange. 

  • Rara July 27, 2021 (6:29 pm)

    I haven’t heard of any around in two years. Disease? All the ones that were on the blog a few years back looked sickly. 

  • Tim July 27, 2021 (6:57 pm)

    My neighbors and I agree that the racoon population has diminished. I saw one on my cherrie tree a month ago. Used to a pack of em in the cherries and plum tree. Two rabbits hanging around though. 

  • brizone July 27, 2021 (6:58 pm)

    Interesting… same situation up in Shoreline.  Would see them from time to time, but the most recent was Spring of 2020 when we saw one going down the middle of the road in front of the house up there.  After that, haven’t seen a single coyote.  Then we noticed a seeming population explosion of rabbits and rats beginning around this time last year.  Never seen so many in the summer before.  And they’re fairly fearless!

  • heartless July 27, 2021 (7:04 pm)

    Can I just say that I fervently hope the headline was a reference to Paula Cole circa mid 90s?

    Not to date myself or anything…

    • Wildflower July 27, 2021 (10:48 pm)


      Thought it might be an allusion to an even older folk song, ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone.’

      • waikikigirl July 28, 2021 (5:00 am)

        Wildflower, me too and are we showing our age!? Then I had to You Tube the song! ;>)

  • Joe July 27, 2021 (7:32 pm)

    Coyotes eat a lot of rats. When we poison rats, we’re also poisoning the food source of many carnivores. This is one possible explanation for the decline in coyotes.

  • psps July 27, 2021 (9:21 pm)

    I remember reading a story a few years ago, maybe here on WSB, about the Wildlife Services (an obscure arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) killing coyotes in Seattle. The stated purpose of the Wildlife Services is to “resolve conflicts between people and wildlife.”

    • WSB July 27, 2021 (9:38 pm)

      You’ll find several reports on that in our archives, like this one:
      Neighborhoods had to raise a four-figure “co-op fee” to get their intervention.

    • anonyme July 28, 2021 (9:44 am)

      A far better idea would be to place controls on the human population, which is gobbling up resources and habitat faster than bacteria in a test tube.  Whenever there is a conflict between human and non-human animals, the humans always win – to the detriment of the entire ecosystem.

      • TophWS July 28, 2021 (12:12 pm)

        And just what would you suggest, and would you apply those suggestions to your own family and the families of your friends?

  • admiral admirable July 27, 2021 (11:01 pm)

    came here to say what PSPS said, after the feds came and killed the coyotes, I think they got the message and decided this isn’t a great place to live. Or the regional population isn’t healthy enough to push into this territory. 

  • wssz July 28, 2021 (5:01 am)

    It’s really hard to read the comments in the archived file (link in WSB’s 7/27 comment above at 9:38pm). The coyotes have always had a home here in WS and were excellent at controlling the rat and rabbit populations. But the fear and apparent hatred of coyotes, raccoons, and other wild animals in the comments makes me wonder how any animal can safely coexist with humans. 

    I wonder if the poisons in rodent bait boxes have contributed to the elimination of coyotes. The current rodenticides are a super toxin, many times more potent than anything used before.  The rats that ingest it stumble around for up to a week before they die. Coyotes, owls, raccoons, and other predators pick off the ailing and dead rodents and then suffer the same fate, bleeding internally then dying.  And up the food chain it goes. 

    I for one really miss the coyotes. I live near a greenbelt and used to hear a family of coyotes, especially during the spring and summer months. But it’s now been 4+ years since I’ve heard them.  Haven’t seen their scat during that time either. I always thought of the coyotes as survivors as they are super adaptable to urban environments, even including NYC. Something else must be going on here, since they clearly have not survived.

    For those who want to think they’ve gone somewhere else, in their emaciated condition, they would not have the strength to move on. 

    I also spend time in Renton’s Black River Riparian Forest, where there was a healthy population of coyotes, deer, and the occasional weasel, red fox and skunk. It’s been at least 5 years since our last sighting of a coyote (including their scat), and the deer, fox and skunk disappeared many years earlier. 


  • david h kipnis July 28, 2021 (5:16 am)

    I live across from Schmidt Park and used to come across Coyotes while walking in the Park. Haven’t seen or heard from them in like three years

  • Tracey July 28, 2021 (6:07 am)

    I came home from vacation to find the head only of one of our neighborhood rabbits.  Everything else gone except rib cage and head.  Was thinking coyote but not sure especially after this post.   Any animal experts out there who could tell my what predator was sneaking around my yard while I was gone?  Raccoon?  Neighbor cat?  Coyote?

  • JJ July 28, 2021 (6:18 am)

    Nope. Haven’t seen any in a long time. We had more rabbits than ever this year. 

  • mediancat July 28, 2021 (7:01 am)

    I remember this (coyotes being killed).  There was so much complaining about the free-range cats going missing and it was all blamed on coyotes.  Sad lack of understanding of nature and ecosystems. Our own ignorance is the cause of this particular bunny and rat explosion (yes, i’ve seen more rats, as well as squirrels, but i like squirrels).   And we will see a larger die off (kill off) of the bird population now that the free-range cat problem is not kept in check.   Troubling that the agency responsible for eradicating the coyotes couldn’t have instead educated people on what will happen when/if they are removed.

  • anonyme July 28, 2021 (7:15 am)

    Whatever happened to them a) humans had something to do with it and b) it ain’t good.  Any issues that may have been created by the coyotes was human-caused, by letting cats roam and leaving food out.  Now that others mention it, I’ve also noticed that the raccoons have vanished.  Up until a year or so ago I would see them in my yard and neighborhood on a regular basis, and scat beneath their favorite tree.   No sign of them for quite awhile.  There has also been a rat explosion.  Nature finds a balance; create a vacuum and it will be filled.  Personally, I’d prefer coyotes to rats (I have nothing against rats, I just don’t want them destroying my house).  If any animal needs to be controlled, it is humans.

  • Eddie July 28, 2021 (8:21 am)

    The bridge is out and the detour is so obnoxious the coyotes just said “forget you West Seattle”.

  • helpermonkey July 28, 2021 (8:22 am)

    I haven’t seen any coyotes in a while, but I can assure you all that Arbor Heights still has a thriving raccoon population. Big rangy bois, too. One time I saw a raccoon at dusk and he was so big I thought it was a coyote. 

    • newnative July 28, 2021 (11:53 am)

      We have raccoons in North Admiral too. The other week I saw one going after a crow nest.  

  • yacman July 28, 2021 (8:44 am)

    Interesting topic. The other critter that seems to be going down in numbers is opossums. I see plenty of raccoons and increasing bunnies. But many fewer opossums for some reason.

    • anonyme August 2, 2021 (12:14 pm)

      Ironically, I saw my first West Seattle opossum in my Arbor Heights yard last night.  What fascinating critters.  More intelligent than dogs, not at all prone to rabies, non-aggressive (the hissing is for display only), and best of all, they eat rats, mice, and SLUGS!  We need more possums around here!

  • ManySteps July 28, 2021 (10:03 am)

    Some observations after living in same house on Beach Drive since 1993. When we first moved here we had foxes, raccoons and possums around with the occasional river otter thrown into the mix but never any coyotes or rabbits.  It seemed the coyotes moved in about 10(?) years ago and the foxes, possums disappeared along with a decline in raccoon sightings.   It’s been 3 or 4 years now that we have not seen or heard any coyotes about (they used to den up in the wooded hillside above us and we would hear them yipping at night).  During the past couple of years we noticed something munching on some plants and we assumed rabbits but it wasn’t until this year that we’re really seen them and now it’s not uncommon to have 3 or 4 in our yard at a time. 

  • AJP July 28, 2021 (10:56 am)

    Interesting, I’ve been thinking for a year or so I haven’t heard anything about coyotes. Good to know it’s not just me making stuff up. 

  • JN July 28, 2021 (11:47 am)

    I wonder with all of the other canine scat throughout our parks, planting strips and green spaces how one recognizes or determines if it is coyote scat?The raccoon’s are know for their latrine habits of leaving their hazardous scat in one spot and it is usually recognizable.

    • wssz July 29, 2021 (1:01 am)

      In Seattle, coyote scat usually contains fur and bones from rabbits. Skilled naturalists identify scat easily. 

  • Rose De Dan July 28, 2021 (12:19 pm)

    I can only speak for my area of West Seattle (edge of Admiral/Belvidere near greenbelt), but there are raccoons, opossums (see https://reikishamanic.com/2021/06/22/opossum-apple/) and Barred owls present. The four-footed animals pay nightly visits to the fountain in my backyard and I share the wildlife cam footage on YT. The baby raccoons are especially cute in their playfulness (see https://youtu.be/tgTgTMVwqfI). The rabbit population in my neighborhood is currently being held in check by the family of Barred Owls who brought their youngster to visit last week (see https://youtu.be/j-YftjWGD1A). Sadly, I have not seen nor heard any coyotes for several years now. The last one I saw had such a bad case of mange that it literally had no fur.

  • MayBe July 28, 2021 (12:57 pm)

    My theory: they’ve been replaced by people.

  • Dunno July 29, 2021 (4:47 am)

    Agree with Eddie.   Bridge, speed bumps, campers, defund movement, ect. sent them packing.  Most have moved to the eastside!

  • Sam - Seattle Coyote Study July 29, 2021 (7:28 pm)

    Thank you all for this super helpful information – I really appreciate it! 

    • Judy July 31, 2021 (4:57 pm)

      I just sent you an email with some photos!

  • Phin July 29, 2021 (10:19 pm)

    We heard one a couple if weeks ago! It was a solo call in the middle of the night. We live near high point. Hadn’t seen or heard any for years.

  • Chris July 31, 2021 (6:02 am)

    My senior friend walks early in the morning.   She used to see in North Admiral area, however has not seen for about a year.   There are rabbits bouncing around the area, so perhaps the coyotes are gone?   We also have been noticing many less raccoons.   We used to see families of raccoons in North Admiral.     The coyotes would come off greenbelt & up Ferry Avenue.   We saw one standing on street corner of California Ave S W &  Ferry 2 years ago.   We knew of a coyote family where California Avenue ends up above Lincoln Park, however we are told they have not been seen or heard recently.   Cats were disappearing up there at that time.

    • WSB July 31, 2021 (10:19 am)

      Since a few people have mentioned cats: We still get lost cat reports, having run the only all-West Seattle lost/found pets page for 13+ years now. That hasn’t changed. Exoerts say coyotes might eat the occasional free-ranging cat but were more likely to eat smaller wildlife – rodents, for example. Incidental note, the federal wildlife agents above killed tens of thousands of coyotes nationwide last year alone; I have a FOIA request out looking for local specifics. Certainly there are lots of theories about what happened, but if it was a die-off – mange, rat poison, who knows – where are the carcasses? – TR

  • anonyme July 31, 2021 (2:49 pm)

    The carcasses are in the same place as the Sasquatch corpses.

  • Judy July 31, 2021 (4:12 pm)

    I saw a beautiful coyote in my backyard in August 2020. I’ll email the photos to the researcher.

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