How to Tell if a Coyote Has Been in Your Yard


With more coyotes coming into urban and suburban areas, you may find one in your yard. If you want to know what the best way to deal with coyotes is then please read on.

To tell if a coyote has been in your yard then you may spot tracks and scat. Tracks can be distinguished from dog tracks as they walk in a straight line. Scat is typically filled with hair and bones.

I wanted to look further into this as I am sure I have a coyote that keeps coming back at night. I found that there are a few different ways to identify them and what to do if you find one in your yard.

How Do You Know If A Coyote Has Been In Your Yard?

Tracks

The presence of tracks in your yard show an animal has been lurking. How do you tell a coyotes track from a similar dog or wolf tracks?

The tracks of a coyote are like a domestic dog track but with some changes.

Coyote

With a coyote, there is a more oval shape rather than round. The claws of the coyote are sharp and pointed with little to no contact on hard surfaces.

The toes are also different with toes 2 and three almost sitting on top of toes 2-3 and the pad of the heel.

Dog

Dogs have blunt claws from walking indoors or on pavements. The paw is a roundish shape with toes 2 and three sitting relatively close to the heel pad. Toes 1 and 4 point outwards slightly.

Gray Wolf

The track of a gray wolf is much wider, almost twice as wide at up to 5 inches wide. A coyote’s track can be up to 2.5 inches wide. The inner toes appear bigger than in coyote tracks and their outer toes tend to splay. All four claws are generally shown in the track.

If you are unsure of the difference between a coyote and a wolf, I have written an article here.

Trail Patterns

Good tracks are often hard to find in the yard, so the best option is to look at the trail pattern.

The trail pattern of a coyote is generally in a straight line. This can be seen in the way that they hunt their prey.

Wolves are similar but have a much larger stride at 60-70 cm than dogs or coyotes.

A dog is generally more boisterous, running around in different directions.

Scat

The scat of a coyote is easier to tell from other animals. The scat is usually less than 1 inch in diameter. This may contain hair and small bones from rodents and rabbits.

The scat has a shinier appearance than wolf and dog scat and tapers at one end to a point.

Wolf scat ranges up to 1.5 inches. This also tapers to a point but is cord like with bone fragments. These may contain hair from deer, mountain goats, moose, elk or bison.

Vocalizations

If you hear coyotes during the night and you have heard a disturbance in your yard, then you may have well had a coyote around.

The repertoire of the adult coyote contains eleven vocalizations that they use to communicate with each other.

Are Coyotes Dangerous?

Coyotes can be a potential threat to humans and are known to attack. Children and pets have been attacked due to their size.

Most human attacks have been while people have been trying to rescue their pets from the jaws of a coyote.

Coyotes have also been known to attack if cornered or if their pups are around.

There have been two instances of a coyote killing someone in North America.

I have written a full article on whether coyotes are dangerous to humans here.

How To Deter Coyotes From Your Yard?

Coyotes are scavengers and will seek out food where they can get it. You will need to first clear up any food sources.

Clear Away Food Sources

Clear up any garbage in the yard.

Secure any trash cans in a garage or special shed.

Stop feeding your dogs and cats outside and keep their food indoors. Coyotes will steal their food off the porch at night.

Keep fallen and rotten fruit off the ground.

Reduce the rodent population. Take away any food sources from the rodent.

Coyote Proof Your Yard

Keep the grass trimmed. Coyotes will prefer longer grass for shelter. Keeping the grass short will make a coyote think twice if it wants to enter.

Build a fence to keep them out. Build the fence so that it angles outwards as this makes it harder for the coyote to get in. The fence should be at least 5 to 6 feet tall.

A wire apron would need to be attached to the bottom of the fence as coyotes are good diggers.

Coyote rollers can be placed at the top of fences and gates to stop coyotes coming in. Coyotes, if they do not jump the fence, use their paws on top of the fence to pull themselves up. The rollers stop this from happening.

How To Scare Away A Coyote

Flashing Lights

If you want a nonharmful deterrent to keep wolves out of your yard, I use flashing lights to keep them away. I use a solar-powered one. It charges up during the day, then uses flashing lights to keep not only coyotes away but also deer and other animals. I use the Fierre Shahn flashing light. It has a motion sensor and I have a lot fewer coyotes come in my garden now. You can find it on Amazon hereOpens in a new tab..

Hazing Methods

There is a method called hazing that deters the coyote and can help you move them out of the area. Hazing helps maintain the coyote’s fear of humans and can deter them from coming back to your yard. Hazing uses noises to alert the coyote to your presence.

Stand your ground – Do not run away. By standing your ground, you are showing the coyote that you have no fear. It is OK to back away slowly if the coyote shows to be adversarial.

Shout and use noise – Yelling and shouting at the coyote is the first thing that you should try to scare the coyote away.

Noisemakers – If you have any noisemakers such as bells, music on your mobile phone, or even whistling can scare the coyote away.

If a coyote has not come into contact with a human before then yelling alone may not work.

Be large – Shouting at the coyote may be enough to scare it away. Making yourself as large as possible while doing this will give you the best chance to scare it away. Waving your arms may be enough to scare the coyote off.

Projectiles – If being loud, large, and scary does not work, then you can throw sticks, small rocks, or tennis balls toward, but not at the coyote. Do not hit the coyote. This is information from the humane society.

Water – Although this would not be very nice to use in winter conditions, a glass of water or a hosepipe can be an excellent deterrent to any coyote in your yard.

There is much more chance of the coyote running in a different direction as soon as it first sees you so you may not need to use any of these techniques.

How To Protect Pets From Coyotes

Be careful with your pets, whether they are in your yard or on a walk with you. Try to avoid off-leash walks with your dog and keep cats inside at night if you think there are coyotes around.

Make sure to clean any dog poop up in your yard as this will attract coyotes.

If you see a coyote, pick up your pet if possible or keep them close to you.

If you would like further information on coyotes, I have written a complete guide here.

Conclusion

Coyotes, unless they are passing through, are only going to come in your yard for food. By tidying up your yard and making it more coyote proof you can keep these animals away.

If you do find a coyote in your garden, I am confident that by using the tips above, you will be able to safely make them leave.

Bryan Harding

Bryan has spent his whole life around animals. While loving all animals, Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Not only does Bryan share his knowledge and experience with our readers, but he also serves as owner, editor, and publisher of North American Mammals.

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