Are coyotes dangerous? What to do if you can’t avoid conflict

Coyote attacks on humans are rare. Fatal attacks are even less common. In reality, only 2 fatal attacks have been recorded in Canada and the US. Contrary to popular belief, more people die from vending machine attacks and from being trampled on Black Friday than they do by coyotes each year.

Often human attacks on coyotes are avoidable by modifying human behavior, such as avoiding habituation practices and educating people about preventative behaviors. The vast majority of offending coyote attacks end up being a result of humans feeding the animal.

Sometimes, people are bitten by coyotes when trying to rescue their free-roaming pet from an attack. Less commonly, people are bitten by coyotes that were cornered or even more rarely, rabid coyotes. Coyotes are shy animals and they only attack humans if they feel threatened. They usually avoid human contact and will run away when they see a person. Most coyote attacks occur when the coyote is defending its territory or food source, but these attacks rarely happen.

What to do when you encounter a coyote

Even if you have done everything in your power to avoid an encounter with a coyote, it isn’t always possible. In these cases, you need to know what to do next. Below we’ve provided some general guidelines for dealing with coyotes when they come close to you.

…crossing the street

Coyotes are most active during mating season (from January to March) and when their young start to venture out on their own (from September to November).

Most coyotes are naturally shy and scared of humans. But in some places, they can sometimes be spotted traversing residential backyards or crossing streets. This behavior is not uncommon near the borders of large open spaces because that’s where they tend to find their natural prey.

Coyotes are known to take shortcuts. The next time you spot one, just keep your pet and children away from them and make sure to keep anything that may be attracting coyotes away from your house.

…lingering in your yard or approaching you

Coyotes are usually timid, so usually they want to run when they see a human. If they linger and come close, it’s important to start “hazing.” Hazing is a term that people use for actions that can be taken to scare coyotes and chase them away (e.g., yelling loudly at them or throwing things in their direction

  • Keep yelling and be as loud and showy as possible. Don’t turn your back at them and don’t run

  • Shout at them authoritatively while waving your arms or clapping your hands.

  • Make noise (something that will alert the neighbors, if needed) by either using a whistle or an air horn. If you don’t have one available you can bang metal pots or pans.

  • Throw small objects, like stones, sticks, or tennis balls. The goal is to make a noise and get the coyote to run away rather than trying to hurt it.

  • Grab a hose and spray the coyote with it. If you have a squirt gun, fill it with water and vinegar and fire away.

  • Prepare a “coyote shaker” (an empty soda can filled with pennies or other small metal objects) and shake it. You can even throw it away towards the coyote.

…and hazing fails

Coyotes may freeze, run, or stare at you. Continue hazing until they get the message and leave. You may also have to haze larger packs than lone coyotes. If the leader leaves, so will the rest of the pack.

If coyotes are not retreating from your property or are returning despite your efforts, it’s possible there is someone in the area who is intentionally feeding them. This can be extremely dangerous and should be reported to the police.

…and it is approaching a child or a pet

When a coyote is close by, always keep an eye at your child and a leash on your pet. If you see a coyote coming towards you, pick your pet or child and start “hazing” it. If it doesn’t get the hint and leave, step back slowly while still shouting at it and try to go inside if possible. You can also trick or ward off coyotes by carrying a whistle, a squirt gun or some pepper spray.

Keep coyotes out of your yard and protect your pets. Avoid conflict using these tips.

Most coyotes will avoid humans if they have no easy access to human food sources and when you don’t give them any easy access to your home, but if a coyote lives in the same area as you, it will come into your yard when it is hungry. Things like garbage, pet food or compost can atrract them. Part of the reason coyotes get a free buffet is that they’re naturally curious. Once that coyote finds food in your place’s yard, they’ll start to frequent your neighbor’s too.

You should not feed coyotes..Ever

If you want to protect your home from coyotes, stop feeding them. When they’re used to people, they see us as potential prey and may attack.

There’s an improved awareness of the dangers associated with intentional feeding, like bait stations in yards and parks. However, many people continue to unintentionally feed coyotes by leaving their pet food or garbage out at night or by having large bird feeders.

Coyotes typically aren’t interested in bird food, but bird feeders often attract rodents. This means that the area near the feeder is a breeding ground for ravenous coyotes.

Do not let your pets run loose unattended

Coyotes are quite common even if you’re not aware of them. So don’t let your pets roam freely when you’re outside. When you leave your pet outside, be sure that they are in a safe and enclosed place. You should never leave them outside unattended, even for a couple of minutes.

Free-ranging house cats and feral cat colonies may also act as a cry to coyotes in some cases. Cats should be kept inside and feral cats should be neutered or spayed to control their population.

Using repellents or coyote-proof fencing may help

Yeah, there’s this cool thing called repellents that keep coyotes away. They’re widely available and work great for yards and the like; some of them, like lights, can even be remotely activated!

Coyotes are no match for fencing! If your fence is more than 6-feet tall with a roll bar across the top, it should be able to provide some protection against these pesky wildlife creatures.

The best way to avoid conflict is by not creating it where it doesn’t exist

If coyotes aren’t doing anything that concerns you, don’t try to stick them with taunts or other provocations. Treating them as a communal resource is how we’re going to continue getting on well with our four-legged neighbours.

What attracts coyotes in an urban or residential area?

They are looking for Food

Feeding coyotes is a mistake, and will set them up for dangers. You might be enjoying feeding animals, but this leads to dangerous side effects: they get used to humans and confused. These are some rules you shouldn’t break:

  • Never, ever feed your pet out of the house! You can only feed them once per day and should take the bowl away as soon as they’re done.

  • If you use an enclosed bin for your compost (and you absolutely should), never include meat or fish scraps in the bin.

  • The area around bird feeders should be clean of bird seed, to keep it free from mice and other rodents, which can in turn lure coyotes.

  • Remove the fallen fruit from the ground.

  • Make sure to keep your trash in high quality containers with tight fitting lids and make sure to put them out the morning of your collection date

They are looking for Shelter

Coyotes are sneaky animals and can live in close proximity to humans without them being aware. These coyotes are following the rules we set for low human-wildlife conflicts and should be left alone.

In the Spring time, when coyotes are getting ready to have their puppies, they’ll typically hang around places like dens or burrows. In these instances of their territory, they might become more aggressive. It’s best not to challenge them if you can help it.

People walking their dogs who encounter coyotes in public parks should keep an eye out for their pup and make sure the animal is on a leash when interacting with the wild animal. Although fights are rare, they happen most often when dogs are not leashed or tracked by their owner.

If you see a coyote while walking your dog, do not instictivelly run away. Instead, follow the “Coyote Hazing Guidelines” to scare it off.

Free-roaming pets may attract them

Unattended, free-roaming pets such as cats or small dogs, can attract coyotes to your backyard, and eventually, to your neiborhood. Make sure to never leave them outside, without being present yourself. This means that cats must either be kept indoors at all times or they can be allowed outside only when supervised. Be sure to put them into a harness and leash each time.. Some outdoor enclosures are also made just for cats called catios! All dogs deserve to be treated with love and respect, which is why we recommend always supervising them when outside or make sure to have a fence that coyotes can’t get through.

Community cat colonies may attract them too – this is how to protect them

Some people who feed community cats are worried that coyotes would be tempted by the pet food they leave out. This is understandable, considering coyotes can be attracted by both the food and the cats themselves. Here is a list of some tips to keep community cats safe from coyotes:

  • Cats need only be fed once a day, at set times. Always clean up whatever they do not consume.

  • Make cats’ feeding stations inaccessible to coyotes, just make sure not to pute them too high up so they can’t reach them

  • Provide community cats with escape routes by installing posts and other climbing opportunities. These can be in the form of wooden posts up to twelve feet high.

  • If you come across coyotes on your property, make them uncomfortable by using our hazing techniques. The more they stay away, the better.


Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison is our expert in hunting. He was born in Alaska, so hunting was his hobby since high school. Later, Shawn took a Hunter Training at Alaska Department of Fish and Game to structure his knowledge and now he is open to share his knowledge with our readers. Shawn is taking ‘Safety First’ approach on all of his trips, especially is some people are going hunting for the first time.