What To Do If You See a Coyote? (Safety Tips)

What To Do If You See A Coyote

It’s a cool evening and the perfect weather to take a stroll, however, you run into a coyote, what do you do? While it is natural if your first instinct is to run, you should know that there are better ways to handle the situation. So, what do you do if you see a coyote?

If you see a coyote suddenly, you must stay still and avoid the urge to run, then back up slowly and raise your hands so you can appear larger than the coyote. Also, you should consider hazing coyotes so they avoid coming close to your neighborhood.

Usually, coyotes spotting are more common near wildlife areas, reserves, farms, and forest but now, there are certain factors that increase the chances of spotting a coyote in urban areas. Read on to learn what to do if you see a coyote.

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Identifying a Coyote

If you are not careful, you may mistake a coyote for a brown dog with a long tail thinking it is only a lost pet. So how do you identify coyotes?

These canine species with roots in North America belong to the wolf family. They are, however, smaller than the average wolf. Where a gray wolf can weigh 170 lbs with an average length of five feet, the average male coyote will weigh 44 lbs with an average length of 37 inches.

Coyotes are generally more active at dawn and dusk, so you may see what looks like a big dog, especially in a neighborhood known for high coyote sightings.

Originally, these animals were only common in deserts and deep forests, but now, people sight them in mountains and some urban areas.

Furthermore, this dog family animal coexists in packs which may be a group of their blood relatives or other unrelated coyotes. In terms of feeding, coyotes are carnivorous animals that survive on other smaller pets.

These animals survive on animals like deer and even small pets like rabbits. When coyotes sight prey, you can expect that they will chase and feed on the animal, whether it is in the wild or open forests.

N.B: The average coyote is smaller than a wolf but bigger than the average dog.

What To Do When You See A Coyote?

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Getting acquainted with appropriate steps to take when you sight a coyote is crucial since this wild animal cannot be predicted. Below are some moves to learn if you ever find yourself in this situation.

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Step 1. Do Not Run

We understand that this may not be as easy as it sounds, but when you face a coyote, you should try to resist the natural impulse to run. This is because running will trigger the animal’s natural instinct to chase you, which is dangerous.

You may want to think again if you think you can run fast enough until you’re in a safe space. Coyotes can run as fast as 56 to 69 km/h, so in this case, you should know that running is not an option.

Step 2. Try To Appear Larger

Coyotes understand the concept of dominance, and this is where the idea of appearing larger comes to play. A coyote is a member of the wolf family, which means they follow the concept of having an alpha.

If you can assert dominance by standing tall and showing no signs of weakness, you will successfully scare away the coyote.

Step 3: Back Away Slowly

When in close proximity to a coyote, you can consider backing away real slow until you are nowhere near this animal. This involves maintaining eye contact with it and raising your hands as you do so in an attempt to appear bigger.

Until you are sure you are safe from the coyote, ensure that you do not break eye contact, and at no point should you turn around because this may cause the coyote to attack you from behind.

If you are with a small dog or a child at this point, it is best to slowly pick them up and back away with them so that there is no room for surprises that can trigger the coyote.

Step 4: Haze the Coyote

Hazing is a method that uses deterrents to discourage coyote behavior and chase them away from a particular surrounding. This helps to maintain the coyote’s fear of people so they do not come around often.

There are different methods of hazing that you can employ to scare away these coyotes, and they include:

  • Yelling and swinging your arms while moving boldly toward the coyote until it runs away
  • Employing noisemakers like shakers, air horns and whistles, pots, pans, and the lid. Banging them together will scare the animal away
  • Projectiles like sticks, tennis balls, cans, rubber balls, and small rocks are also effective in scaring away coyotes
  • Other instruments like a hose, spray bottles with repellant and pepper spray also works for hazing coyotes

N.B: If a coyote does not respond to hazing, it could mean that it hasn’t experienced hazing before or its pupping season and the coyote already marked a territory where it established dens to care for the pup. In this case, slowly back away.

Ways To Prevent Encounters with Coyotes

It is always best that you prevent coming in contact with a coyote to avoid putting yourself in a dangerous situation. Below are some of the ways to avoid such encounters.

1. Clear the Attractants

Sometimes, a coyote keeps coming back to your neighborhood because there are attractants around you that make this animal keep coming back. It is your duty in this situation to clean up and get rid of whatever element that you feel attracts the coyote.

Having bird feeders around your house makes your surroundings susceptible to rodents and other smaller animals, which attracts members of the dog family like coyotes and other prey.

Additionally, leaving pet food around tends to attract wildlife like these, so if you feed feral cats, you shouldn’t leave food outside for more than 30 minutes before you clear them.

Furthermore, ensure you clear any fruit that falls from fruit trees around, as this can attract coyotes. You should also confirm that you secure all garbage cans and put all dirt inside compost bins with tight lids to eliminate any attractants.

Finally, if you keep farm animals like chickens, you must know that you are at risk of encountering coyotes because they will attempt to feed on them. Ensure you cover your chickens properly to avoid coyotes digging under your fences.

2. Clean Up Your Neighborhood

If you keep your neighborhood clean and avoid leaving huge brush piles around, you will be eliminating the chances of predators like coyotes around. Clearing your pup’s feces immediately is also essential.

This is because the feces will attract rodents, which will attract wildlife since they feed on smaller animals like these. Essentially, it is best to clean up your outdoor environment so predators have nowhere to hide.

Furthermore, you should block crawl spaces around your house, sheds, and porches because coyotes are good at digging. The less mess you have around, your chances of encountering a coyote are lesser.

3. Avoid Feeding Coyotes

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Coyotes are not feral cats; they are harmful and it is not wise to feed them. Feeding coyotes allows them to feel more comfortable with humans and get familiar with the environment, so you shouldn’t be surprised when they keep coming back.

This is the most common reason for coyote bites because when you start feeding these wild animals, you forget how dangerous they can be until they harm you. Do not pet these animals or leave out food for them at any point as this will encourage them to return.


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4. Secure Your Children and Pets

Small children are clueless about wild animals, and if they see a coyote, they will probably try to approach the animal to play. If you know you are in an area common for coyote sightings, you should ensure that your kids are around you at all times so you can monitor their movement.

This also applies if you have a pet. Coyotes may want to prey on pets they see roaming around freely, so it is advisable that if you have a pet dog, you keep it on a leash. Also, consider installing fences that are coyote-proof to ensure proper protection for small pets like rabbits and domestic cats.

5. Avoid the Coyotes

Naturally, coyotes do not roam around, especially in areas with higher footfalls. However, coyote sightings are now popular even in urban areas, so you must know how to avoid walking on one’s trail.

In their natural habitat, coyotes are important to attaining a balanced system, so it is impossible to get rid of them. What you can do is steer clear and give the coyote space so it doesn’t feel the need to defend its territory.

Furthermore, you must ensure that your children or pets do not harass or chase after a coyote because this will trigger their defense mechanism and make them more dangerous.

6. Pay Attention to Coyote Sightings

Staying informed is an excellent way to prevent encounters with coyotes. Listen for sightings around you so you can plan your move properly and avoid any area listed as a possible camping site for coyotes, especially those in their pupping season.

If you suspect a coyote is near you, you can contact wildlife guards to help control the situation.

Final Thoughts

Typically, coyotes stay far from humans but several situations may warrant a coyote coming closer to your area. It is up to you to sort out these situations and some of them may include:

  • Living in a messy neighborhood
  • Attractants around your home
  • Leaving food out for coyotes

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