Are Coyotes Dangerous?

Native to North America and numbering somewhere in the millions, coyotes can be found in Canada, the USA, and Mexico wherever there are scraps to be found. While they’re descended from wolves and dogs, coyotes are known for being a lot more skittish and wilier than their other canid cousins.

Whether you’ve met one before or you’re dreading the possibility, here we have the breakdown of the dangers that coyotes pose. Not only that, but we have also given you six steps that will ward the animal away and ensure you and a coyote will never come to blows.

Are Coyotes Dangerous1

Are They Dangerous?

This is a tough question to answer. Even the most predatory animals can be scared away in certain situations, like bears or sharks, but that’s not always the case.

Coyotes try to avoid people as much as possible. Where they are more brazen, it’s because they associate humans and our towns with food scraps, so they see us as a source of food in a different way.

There have only been just over 350 attacks by coyotes between 1977 to 2015 and only two of them were fatal. For context, sharks have fatally attacked 400 people since 1958.

So, coyotes can be dangerous but it’s rare. That can be said for many predatory animals, so we should get into more detail.

Here’s a rundown of coyote behaviors and how you should react to them, just in case you find yourself nearby to a possibly aggressive pack.

  • First, coyotes that pose a low threat will rarely be seen except for nighttime. You should keep any pets safe and lock up any sources of food, so they don’t come sniffing around for whatever you have.
  • Next, you may see them prowling at night frequently, and maybe during the day. At this point, you can try scaring them away by throwing random objects and shouting. This is typically sufficient to scare them away.
  • If they’re frequently visible at day and are openly stalking pets while trying to dodge people, it’s probably time to call predator control. Continue the above-suggested behaviors too, like keeping pets safe and scaring the coyotes away.
  • If a coyote approaches and growls, stands its ground when scared, and tries to follow pets or even children, then there are dangerous coyotes in the area and they need to be dealt with. Predator control is the most humane way of removing them from the area but, if you need to and you have the means, you may need to defend your loved ones.

How Coyotes Turn Bad?

Are Coyotes Dangerous

It’s fair to say that the points above cover what happens when a population of coyotes turns bad. These are almost always urban packs who have become desperate and aggressive due to provocation from other humans.

Most roaming packs stay at that very first stage, where they pose virtually no threat.

Adopt these behaviors so you’re prepared to disarm and respond to a coyote’s aggressiveness if you can.

1. No Feeding The Coyotes

We tell people not to feed squirrels or certain birds because then they’ll come back and cause a stir, so why would you feed coyotes?

Most residential neighborhoods that have coyote problems can probably trace them back to feeding the coyotes. This gets rid of their fear of us and, without that, we become prey in their eyes.

If you or anybody else you know are engaging in intentional coyote feeding, stop ASAP. With that said, the more common cases of coyote feeding are unintentional.

Coyotes will rummage through food that’s left around, quite like a raccoon, and they love to get at bird feeders to wait for squirrels and birds to hunt. Limit freely available food when coyotes are around.

2. No Pets Allowed

This is an extension of our first point if you really think about it. Letting pets run loose when there are coyotes around presents a risk that the pack will find and hunt your companion.

If they succeed, the coyotes will get even more brazen. Remember that fencing may not be enough to keep lurking coyotes at bay. If you’re traveling, keep your animal on a leash and in your sight at all times.

3. Don’t Run

If you encounter a coyote, you should first stand your ground and make some noise. By shouting and throwing rocks in its direction, you challenge the coyote and it should make them flee. Remember that they’re usually skittish.

Sometimes a coyote will approach because you’re unwittingly standing near its young, in which case you should try to find a way around. 

Don’t run from the animal, it’ll only get more brazen if it thinks humans are afraid of it. Carrying a noisemaker is a great way to scare away most coyotes.

4. Be Prepared

While fencing is no guarantee, if it’s six-foot-tall and has a roll bar across the top then coyotes aren’t making it in. Behind those fences, you should grab some repellents to keep them away if they approach.

We already mentioned the sound maker above. Combine that with spray and some remote-activation lights and you can keep coyotes away for good.

While you should be prepared, you shouldn’t create conflict where it does not exist. Deterring coyotes is easy up until you can call animal control, so using the standard repellants and loud noises should be enough.

5. Report Them

If coyotes exhibit the fearless and aggressive behaviors we described near the top of this page, you should report them ASAP. The faster they’re reported, the faster predator control and other services can get there, investigate, and then relocate the problem animals so that everybody involved stays safe.

If you’ve seen a dog get aggressive, it’s pretty much identical to how a coyote acts when it’s no longer afraid of civilization and is ready to lash out at the people in it. The process of removing coyotes doesn’t typically harm them, especially if you get professional trappers and animal control specialists involved.

Eric Willis
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