Coyotes are intelligent and highly adaptable animals that have learned to live in nearly every environment on the planet. They are omnivores but also predators who can pose a real threat to pets and livestock.
How to keep coyotes away? Clean food sources and organic debris, use guard animals or use various products for scaring them away with sound, light, water, or chemical scents. Once coyotes stop fearing humans, they become braver and more difficult to evict.
To know more about how to keep coyotes away, continue reading.
What Is a Coyote?
A coyote is an omnivorous scavenger of the genus Canis. Coyotes are incredibly adaptive to their surroundings; they can be found throughout much of the continental United States and are famous for their instantly recognizable high and lonesome howl.
What Does a Coyote Look Like?
A coyote looks almost like a German shepherd at first glance. The weight of coyotes, however, is usually about half of the shepherd. Coyotes have pointed ears that can seem a little too big for their heads, and their coats are typically grey or buff-colored. Their belly fur is usually white in color.
How Big Are Coyotes?
Coyotes can grow up to about 2 feet (0.61 m) tall at the shoulder and weigh up to 50 pounds (22.68 kg). They can weigh between 20 and 50 pounds (9.07 kg. and 22.68 kg) and be up to 4 feet (1.22 m) long from snout to tail.
What Does a Coyote Sound Like?
Coyote songs have yips and barks that are high-pitched along with the howl we often associate with them. During mating season, they can emit a scream-like sound that many people mistake for a human being who is frightened or in pain.
It can be pretty unsettling, especially if you are alone and hear it in the wilderness.
Where Do Coyotes Live?
They almost live everywhere. Having the characteristic of being versatile, coyotes have found a way to live, not just to live but to thrive in nearly every ecosystem and environment in North America.
There are healthy populations of coyotes on the plains, mountains, deserts, and along coasts. Coyotes also prefer to take a rest far from interference with people or other animals.
In some cities like Chicago, scientists reported that there were 4,000 of them living in the area and roaming around.
How Long Do Coyotes Live?
In the wild, most coyotes never reach their third year. But once a wild coyote has made it to its maturity period, approximately it usually lives for around 12 years.
In captivity, where they have fewer enemies and a ready food supply, they can live for as long as 20 years.
What Do Coyotes Eat?
They can live everywhere and at the same time can eat anything. While they are omnivores in nature, coyotes prefer to eat meat such as rodents, small livestock, and the like. It may even include your pets, but we will give you an idea of preventing such an instance.
Coyotes are so adaptive that they can survive on whatever edible materials they may find. They will eat leftover food in the trash, fruits, and nuts that fall from trees, pet food, and anything else they can find.
This adaptability means they can live just about anywhere, which they do, and it also means that they can be hard to repel from your property.
What Do Coyote Tracks Look Like?
Coyote tracks are easily distinguishable. They are about half the size of a wolf’s paw print. While a coyote has four toes on each paw, a coyote print may not show the two outer toes. Their tracks also show that their feet are not splayed compared to the wolf.
Types of Coyotes
There are nearly twenty recognized types of coyotes, but since they can successfully breed with other canines, it resulted in many hybrids, commonly referred to as “coydogs.”
Some of the more common types in North America include:
- Canis latrans cagottis (Hamilton-Smith or Mexican coyote)
- Canis latrans clepticus Elliot (San Pedro Martir coyote)
- Canis latrans frustror Woodhouse (Southeastern coyote)
- Canis latrans impavidus Allen (Durango coyote)
- Canis latrans incolatus Hall (Northern coyote)
- Canis latrans jamesi Townsend (Tiburon Island coyote)
- Canis latrans latrans (Plains coyote)
- Canis latrans lestes Merriam (Mountain coyote)
- Canis latrans mearnsi Merriam (Mearns coyote)
- Canis latrans microdon Merriam (Lower Rio Grande coyote)
- Canis latrans ochropus Eschscholtz (California Valley coyote)
- Canis latrans peninsulae Merriam (Peninsula coyote)
- Canis latrans texesis Bailey (Texas Plains coyote)
- Canis latrans thamnos Jackson (Northeastern coyote)
- Canis latrans umpquesis Jackson (Northwest Coast coyote)
- Canis latrans vigilis Merriam (Colima coyote)
Some of these North American types of coyotes are subspecies of others. Coydogs can come from coyotes mating with dogs, wolves, and foxes, though these resulting coydogs are less fertile.
Coyote vs. Wolf
The Difference Between a Coyote and a Wolf
While it can be more challenging to differentiate a coyote from a dog, it is much easier to distinguish between coyotes and wolves.
Wolves are about twice the size of coyotes across the board; they are twice as tall; they weigh twice as much, and their paws are twice the size of coyotes.
Their faces are noticeably different if you look for longer than a glance. Wolves have smaller ears than coyotes. Wolf’s ears almost look too small for their big wolf heads, while coyote ears often look too big for their narrow faces.
The nose is also different between the two. The coyote has a small nose pad on the end of a narrow snout, while the wolf’s nose is more prominent and broader.
Dogs differ from coyotes as well, though not as obvious. Unlike coyotes, their tails tend to curl up, and they will generally have smaller, more pointed ears than coyotes.
Are Coyotes Dangerous?
Coyotes are dangerous to livestock but not to people. Coyotes are a shy type of animal, and the saying, “He’s more scared of you than you are of him.”, is especially true for them.
That said, they can lose that shyness with continued exposure to people, and like any other animal if they feel cornered, they can attack.
Do Coyotes Attack Humans?
Coyote attacks on people are exceedingly rare, especially adult ones. When a coyote attacks a person, it is usually upon a child being smaller and weaker. Attacks on adults do not usually result in significant injuries, as they can overpower the animal.
But just because coyote attacks are rare, it doesn’t mean that they are not a threat. As humans continue to intrude on the habitats of all animals, those animals might interact with us more, leading to increased attacks.
Do Coyotes Attack Dogs?
Your cats and most of your dogs will be smaller than coyotes, making them good targets. Also, domesticated pets often provide a relatively easy-to-get source of meat for these canines.
The same goes for livestock. Even though your cows are more prominent than coyotes, they do not generally fight back, and the coyote, being an intelligent animal, knows this.
You must either keep your pets nearby or indoors with you at all times or don’t let them be unguarded whenever your pet is outside.
If you have poultry in your yard, their coop needs to be durable and secured. It can’t be overstated how smart coyotes are, and if your birds are not secure, they will become a meal for someone other than you.
Can Coyotes Jump Fences?
Coyotes can jump about 3 feet (0.91 m) high and can climb over just about any size of fence by simply jumping up.
The proper fencing can provide security if installed correctly, thus, preventing coyotes from entering your property. We will address this more in a bit.
Does Dog Poop Attract Coyotes?
Coyotes are attracted to the scent of your dog poop, especially if they are already adapted to a neighborhood that has dogs and cats. Technically speaking, coyotes are omnivores, which means they eat almost anything. However, their favorite food is small mammals. This includes rats, mice, rabbits, and squirrels.
Does Human Urine Keep Coyotes Away?
Unfortunately, no reports or studies are saying that human urine can keep coyotes away. However, wolf urine has been proven as an effective deterrent against coyotes, considering that wolves are their predators. Nonetheless, you should understand that animal urine is more concentrated than human pee.
Will a Dead Coyote Keep Other Coyotes Away?
Some people claim that hanging a dead body of a coyote on a fence can scare other coyotes away. But so far, there is no scientific evidence that supports this claim. On the other hand, it’s quite logical that they will eat their dead comrades. Remember, coyotes are scavengers and will eat anything available to them.
Are Coyotes Nocturnal, Diurnal, or Crepuscular?
Nocturnal are animals that are most active at night and sleep during the day. Diurnal animals are the direct opposite, which means they are active during the day and sleep at night. On the other hand, crepuscular are animals that are most active at around dawn and dusk. Interestingly, coyotes can adapt to any of them.
Coyotes are known as very opportunistic critters and will go out to search for food any time they feel safe. If they are living close to a community, they tend to be nocturnal or crepuscular. But if they live far from humans or the source of food is minimal, they can be diurnal. In short, you may see them any time of the day.
What Season of the Year Are Coyotes Most Active?
Generally speaking, coyotes can adapt to any season of the year. Coyote mating season is usually from January to March. Therefore, male coyotes are usually active in these months, searching for females to mate with. They may also attack your backyard to kill your pets, livestock, or poultry during these times.
However, coyotes are most active in the winter, especially during the daytime while searching for food. Just like foxes, their thick fur coat helps them to keep warm during cold months. On the other hand, summer is the best season to hunt coyotes. This is when female coyotes look for food for their pup (baby coyotes).
What Does It Mean When You Hear Coyotes Howling?
Coyotes can create a lot of different unique sounds, such as whining, barking, and yipping. However, the most common sound they do is howling, especially at night. In fact, coyotes howling usually raises the alarm and concern to people who are not familiar with them. But don’t worry; there’s really nothing to worry about.
Contrary to myths, a pack of coyotes howling at night does not mean they are celebrating after they killed prey. Logically speaking, they will not broadcast that they have found food. Otherwise, competing coyotes or other predators will arrive and join them. Therefore, coyotes howl to communicate with each other.
Interestingly, a coyote will start howling to call his pack after hunting alone. At the same time, the animal is also establishing a territory and warning other packs not to go near. Shortly afterward, his pack will howl back as their response. Once you hear a group howling, it means that the pack of coyotes has already reunited.
What Should I Do If I See a Coyote Near My House?
Some states issue licenses and permit to kill coyotes, especially since hunting season is almost all year round. However, many wildlife biologists emphasized that killing them is not the best way to control them. So if you see a coyote near your house, here are some of the things you can and should not do:
1. Don’t Panic
As mentioned above, coyotes rarely attack or harm humans. This is why you should be calm and don’t panic. Also, don’t run away from them. Instead, think of a way how you can drive the animal away.
2. Keep Distance
Stay away from a coyote at a distance of at least 150 feet (45 meters), especially if you have a dog or cat with you. If the coyote gets closer to you, pick up your pet and slowly move backward. But if you are alone, try to scare it away.
3. Don’t Feed the Coyotes
Feeding the coyotes near your house is like telling them that they are your pets. It’s also very likely that they will come back for more. But more importantly, it will be more difficult for you to scare them away later.
4. Make Yourself Look Bigger
Whether the coyote is approaching you or not, simply put your arms up to make yourself look bigger. Note, however, that some coyotes will only move backward but will not leave. This is when you need to haze the animal.
5. Report to Authorities Immediately
Coyotes can become aggressive, especially if they see your pets as a delicious meals. So if you spot a coyote growling near your house, report it to your local authorities at once. You may call the police, DNR, or animal control.
What Is the Most Humane Way to Deter Coyotes?
The most humane way to deter coyotes is through hazing. Here, you will use some techniques and tools that are safe for humans and animals. Additionally, in some states, it is legal to hunt or trap a coyote. However, there are some very strict restrictions you should follow.
Most hazing coyote techniques will not cost you money. Unfortunately, some of them may not be effective at once, especially if the coyote has not been hazed before. This article will look at what a coyote is, how it behaves, and how knowing these things about them can help us design ways to keep them away from our homes, pets, livestock, and families.
The best way to get rid of coyotes is to discourage them from showing up in the first place.
Any trash you put outside should be sealed in bags and placed in trash bins with secure lids. If you have fruit-bearing trees in your yard, make sure not to leave fruits scattered on the ground. Be sure to keep your pets’ foods indoors as well.
Another overlooked aspect of keeping coyotes away is landscaping. If you have exceedingly tall grass or groups of overgrown bushes or shrubbery, these may provide housing opportunities for prey such as smaller rodents and critters.
Again, coyotes are highly intelligent and they can immediately figure out the tall grasses as perfect foods. Keep things trimmed back. If at all possible, eliminate water sources as well.
Please do not leave the water bowl of your pet outside; otherwise, it will serve as a coyote water bowl too. If you can remedy standing water situations, that will also help. An added benefit to disposing of standing water is mosquito control.
What Keeps Coyotes Away?
You can keep coyotes away by installing motion-activated spotlights or sprinklers to frighten the animal or buying animal repellents with strong smells. Other options include building a fence around your property and hazing any coyotes by yelling at them when they come around.
There are natural, chemical, and electronic ways to discourage coyotes from coming around, each with advantages and disadvantages. You will need to evaluate each along with your needs and decide from there.
If you wish to eschew chemicals, sprays, traps, and the like, you might look into motion-activated deterrents. Being relatively shy, coyotes hate noise and light. They also have an aversion to getting wet.
With these things in mind, manufacturers have created several solutions:
- Motion-activated lights. Allowing for set-it-and-forget-it. These lights will send coyotes running away from them. Many different wattages and configurations are available, such as Ustellar LED Flood Lights, Sonata LED Security Lights with three adjustable lights, or GLORIOUS-LITE LED Flood Lights.
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- Motion-activated sprinklers. These take a little more set-up time since you have to run water to them, but this is not the same as installing a sprinkler system to irrigate your entire yard. Abco Tech Water Jet Animal Repeller and Havahart 5277 Critter Ridder Motion Activated Animal is a lower-priced option.
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- Hazing. An official term in coyote repellent circles, hazing involves being mean to the coyotes. Really. Yelling at them, throwing rocks at them, filling a soda can with pennies, and shaking it at them. All these will discourage the animals.
They must see you doing these things, so do not hide behind a tree. They need to associate the noises and mean behavior with people. This is how they learn to stay away from us.
Best Coyote Deterrent/Repellent to Buy
There are sprays and pellets you can put out, and those may work for you, but ultrasonic options include Garden Secrets Ultrasonic Animal Repellent, which uses sounds inaudible to humans to drive away coyotes and other smaller animals.
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It does not leave a foul smell or any other environmental pollutants.
Natural Coyote Repellents
Homemade repellents can be more ecologically friendly and cost less, both things that can make a big difference to some people.
Carol Martino submitted this recipe to Colorado’s Department of Parks and Wildlife. Here are the steps:
Step 1: Chop one whole Spanish onion.
Step 2: Chop one jalapeno pepper.
Step 3: Combine with 1 tablespoon (15 g) of cayenne pepper.
Step 4: Add two quarts (40 oz) of water and boil for 20 minutes.
Step 5: Strain the water.
Step 6: Spray the solution around your property to deter coyotes.
Other remedies include combining dish soap and castor oil with water or using vinegar and Tabasco sauce. Powerful smells are the common theme. If you have ever seen your dog get into some black pepper, you have some idea of how any of these mixtures will affect a coyote.
Animals That Keep Coyotes Away
Another natural way to deter coyotes is with other animals. There are good guard dogs out there that can help keep coyotes away. But you do not just need a mean, big, or loud dog. Instead, it would be best if you had a dog from a breed with a history of farm or shepherding work. Good choices include:
A 1979 study, authored by Linhart, S. B., et al., showed that Komondors, also known as “Hungarian sheepdogs,” often called “mop dogs,” having dreadlocked-like fur, were statistically the best dogs for driving and keeping away coyotes.
In a farm or ranch situation, two other alternatives to guard dogs are a donkey or a llama. Documented as detesting coyotes, both will actively chase and stomp coyotes.
What Are the Best Hazing Techniques Against Coyotes?
Basically, the main purpose of hazing coyotes is to keep them away from your backyard without hurting them. Although there is no scientific evidence proving that hazing can permanently change coyotes’ behavior, these hazing techniques have proven effective in scaring them. Here are some of them:
1. Create Noises
In general, coyotes are scared of almost all kinds of sounds. Therefore, you can use horns, whistles, bells, cans full of marbles or small stones, or even bang metal pans and pots. You can also scream or yell while slowly approaching them. But because coyotes may get used to one sound, use different noises.
2. Surprise Them
Coyotes get frightened easily when they are surprised. So if a coyote is slowly approaching you, you may use a pop umbrella, pepper spray, water guns with vinegar and water, or a garden hose. But again, most coyotes are very persistent, so you might want to use a different surprise technique once they come back.
3. Throw Something
This so-called projectile technique is the same as when you want to scare a stray dog away. Pick up some small rocks and throw them at a coyote, whether the animal is approaching you or not. You can also use long sticks, tree branches, cans, plastic bottles, or simply anything you can throw at a long distance.
How to Prevent Coyotes From Coming Back?
For many decades, coyotes have been accustomed to being close to the human environment. This is why some hazing techniques may not be effective in scaring them away for good. So if coyotes keep coming back and continue creating damage or killing your pets, here are some preventive measures you can try:
1. Feed Your Pets Inside Your House
If you have pet cats or dogs, feed them inside your house. If you give them food outside, make sure you don’t leave them unattended. Coyotes have an excellent sense of smell and hearing to avoid predators while they are searching for food. Therefore, they can easily detect your pets from afar, as well as your pet food.
3. Install Flashing or Bright Lights
Coyotes avoid flashing or bright lights because of the fear of getting caught. This is why you should bring a flashlight while walking your dog. Meanwhile, installing a motion sensor light outside your house can help prevent coyotes from coming back. However, they may soon realize that the light is not really a threat to them.
4. Build a Fence
Coyotes are high-jumpers and are experts in digging. Therefore, build a fence that is at least 6 feet high and bury it at about 2 ½ feet deep. Make sure the wire spacings are adequate. If possible, put chicken wire or PVC pipe on top of your fence. You can also use an electric fence, as long as it is safe for humans and pets.
5. Have a Guard Animal
Certain breeds of donkeys, llamas, and dogs are effective as guard animals against coyotes. These mammals can be more effective in protecting your livestock or poultry if they have already established a strong bond with them. However, they may also get scared of coyotes if there is a pack of them nearby.
Best Coyote Repellent Sprays
Scent-based repellents include PredatorPee Original Wolf Urine, which promises to create the illusion that wolves have been hanging around. Any coyote who smells this will stay away.
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There is also PMart Wolf Urine. It’s not synthetic, but it is actual wolf urine. There will be no question in the coyote’s mind what he smells with this.
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Best Fence to Keep Coyotes Out
As mentioned above, coyotes can climb over just about any fence, so we have to adjust how we build fences to keep them out of our yards and off our fenced-in properties. Here are some tips:
- Install an apron. A buried section of fence at least 12 in (30.48 cm) deep, an apron prevents coyotes from digging under the fence.
- Build to 7 ft (2.13 m). 6 ft (1.83 m) will not keep all coyotes out.
- Top your fence. An Ultimation Roller and Bracket Set, which comes in two-pack rolls so that the coyote who jumps and puts his paws cannot get any purchase on it to pull himself up.
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- Install electrified fencing. It is costlier, but if you are not in an urban, suburban, or exurban environment, it is a safe option and can be effective.
Best Coyote Traps
Trapping a coyote is an option. However, keep in mind that some jurisdictions require a permit to do so and that a trapped coyote can be extremely dangerous.
Amazon offers humane traps like LifeSupplyUSA Animal Trap. But no matter which option you choose, you will still have a trapped live coyote to deal with.
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If you have exhausted all other avenues for coyote repelling, you may opt for traps, but you must be careful. It would be more prudent to let Animal Control professionals take care of it.
List of Sources
How to Haze for Effective Reshaping of Coyote Behavior. Humane Society of the United States.
Coyotes. Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Lariviere, S. Coyote. Britannica.
Linhart, S.B., et al. (1979). Komondor Guard Dogs Reduce Sheep Losses to Coyotes: A Preliminary Evaluation. The University of Arizona, University Libraries.
McCall, V. (2020). There Are Up To 4,000 Coyotes In The Chicago Area, But Experts Say Don’t Approach Them. NPR Station, WBEZ.
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