Killing Coyotes On Your Property: A Few Tips and Strategies

  • Written By: Phil Hawes
  • Time to read: 7 min.
dead coyote

Coyotes are becoming a more and more common sight, even on our residential American streets. Still, these are wild scavenging animals that can cause chaos in your backyard and even endanger your life.

Seeing that these pests are fairly formidable in an urban environment, would you be within your rights to kill one which wandered onto your own property?

Killing a coyote is allowed in most American states with each one having different rules and statutes. In urban environments trapping would be favored as discharging firearms, even on private property, can be illegal. When extermination isn’t an option, other more humane preventatives are possible.

Although many regions across the USA do allow you to kill these pests, you do not have blanket permission to do so in any way you see fit.

This is why you should read the rest of this article to find out more about your own individual case.

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Why are coyotes so attracted to human settlements?

The reason that coyotes are being seen more and more in towns is because of the food and shelter that they can find there.

Coyotes are naturally shy animals but when their natural habitats have been destroyed, it follows that they scour the landscape for food and a place to live.

Towns are pretty much an open supermarket because of the way humans waste food.

Coyotes are also drawn to towns because of the abundance of wildlife. They can find prey along with scraps to scavenge and of course shelter. Usually, coyotes will go for small animals such as rabbits or rats, but they could easily take on something larger like a household pet.

As we are unlikely to change as humans, we have to deal with this new pest even though perhaps we are all to blame for its presence in our towns and cities.

What do you do if you see a coyote in your yard?

If you see a coyote in your backyard, it is best to keep your distance and not approach the animal. If you are concerned about a coyote in or around children, pets (especially cats and small dogs), keep them inside until you are sure the coyote has left.

If you have any ongoing concerns about a pet or child, call animal control immediately and, of course, do not approach the wild animals yourself!

However, in the meantime, you can probably get the coyote to leave by making some loud noises. Unless the coyote has become extremely used to humans, they should take fright at some trash can lids bashing together or a wooden spoon knocking on a saucepan. Just stay inside if you can and make the noise through an open window or screen door.

If you see a pair or group of coyotes or have had multiple sightings, it is a good idea to call animal control. If you have coyote problems and really feel at risk, please contact your local authorities for advice on how best to deal with it

So, it is legal to actually kill a coyote?

Whether or not it is legal to kill a coyote at all will depend on the state you live in and whether or not you live in a rural; or urban environment.

In some states, coyotes are considered a pest and can be killed on sight. In other areas of the country, they may not have any laws allowing their extermination.

In terms of hunting, the law may dictate that coyotes may be hunted with a rifle, shotgun, or bow and arrow but only during particular times or seasons. Of course, you need the permission of the landowner to do this at all times.

In some states, you can kill them on your property if they are posing a threat to your livestock or pets. In other areas, you may need permission from the state’s wildlife management agency in order for them not to pursue you legally in any way.

How can you legally kill a coyote within city limits?

If you live in a city environment it’s more than likely that you won’t be able to shoot a coyote, so you’ll need to employ other means.

One of the best ways to kill a coyote is by trapping them. The easiest way would be with an animal trap that snaps on their leg, but you can also use a live trap, but this is less common.

Of course, the danger with a snap trap is that the coyote won’t be killed outright by the trap. You will need to find the coyote and either kill it with a firearm (if permitted) or other means. The third option is to snare it with a catchpole. However, you need to be very careful with this method as the coyote can be very aggressive and will bite.

If you’re not comfortable shooting an animal, then trapping is your best bet but be careful when setting the trap as you might get your fingers caught in it.

How do you remove a coyote from a trap?

There are two main options to remove a coyote from a trap, and they depend on what you plan to do with the animal next.

Option 1 is to despatch it and option 2 is to release it somewhere else.

With the first option, you would simply kill the coyote outright with a firearm (if permitted) or other means. Aiming for the coyote’s head or lungs will kill it quite quickly and fairly cleanly. Professional fur trappers do have other means to kill their catches without too much blood too.

The second option, if you’re not willing to kill the coyote, is to release it somewhere else. This is a good option if you’re not sure what the coyote has been eating, or whether they have rabies. You will need to use a catchpole to snare the animal first then release it from the trap.

After this, you would use a cage and transport it far away assuming that it wasn’t badly injured in the trap. Similar, but smaller traps can be used on raccoons or even squirrels

Frankly, catch and release isn’t a great option in most cases. Option one is the most common

In what situations can I shoot a coyote?

You can shoot a coyote only when the law is on your side or if you are in mortal danger, but you would have to clearly prove that and even then you may not get off firing a gun in a town.

Hunting laws aren’t always that clear. You need to check that your state allows the shooting of coyotes at all times and on private property.

In some states, such as Texas, you can fire guns on your land if the property is of a certain size and as long as you don’t endanger the life or property of others. There is, however, a law against shooting coyotes from helicopters. Now that is extreme pest control.

The laws about shooting coyotes are different in every state and it’s important to know the law before you shoot one, If you’re in mortal danger, then it’s a different story. You can shoot the coyote if they are attacking or chasing after your child or pet.

How do you deter coyotes from entering your property?

Coyotes are attracted to urban centers because they know that there is an abundance of food and water. You can deter coyotes by making your property as hostile to them as possible. This can be done with humane and lethal means.

-Install motion-sensor lights around your property. This will scare coyotes away because they are afraid of humans and the light is something associated with humans.

-if living on a fenced property, makes sure you have a fence that is at least six feet high. Coyotes are not good climbers and will be deterred by the height of your property’s fencing. Also, block even the smallest gaps to deter them further.

-Make sure to keep your pets inside at night. Coyotes will be attracted by the smell of cats and dogs and they may even target them if particularly hungry.

-If you are a farmer, make sure to keep your livestock in at night. Coyotes will be attracted by the smell of these animals too.

-if you have a real issue with coyotes, consider laying snap traps out at night or actually go out hunting (if allowed to in your area)

What time of year are coyotes most active?

Coyotes are not among the animals that hibernate so they can be active throughout the year. They will be most active in the spring and fall when they are breeding. Also, expect to see more coyotes in urban areas at times when natural food sources run dry, usually in winter.

So, this means that you should employ year-round prevention methods but expect more pests later in the year as they wander into town looking for scraps and prey.

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