With more coyotes coming into urban and suburban areas, you may find one in your garden. Please read on if you want to know the best way to deal with coyotes.
You may spot tracks and scat to tell if a coyote has been in your garden. Tracks can be distinguished from dog tracks as they walk straight. 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 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?
The presence of tracks in your yard shows an animal has been lurking. How do you tell a coyote track from a similar dog or wolf track?
The tracks of a coyote are like a domestic dog track but with some changes.
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 two and three almost sitting on top of toes 2-3 and the heel pad.
Dogs have blunt claws from walking indoors or on pavements. The paw is round, with toes two and three sitting relatively close to the heel pad. Toes 1 and 4 point outwards slightly.
The track of a gray wolf is much broader, almost twice as wide at up to 5 inches wide. A coyote’s path can be up to 2.5 inches wide. The inner toes appear more prominent than in coyote tracks, and their outer toes tend to play. All four claws are generally shown on the way.
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 more giant stride at 60-70 cm than dogs or coyotes.
A dog is generally more boisterous, running around in different directions.
The scat of a coyote is easier to tell from other animals. The waste is usually less than 1 inch in diameter. This may contain hair and small bones from rodents and rabbits.
The scat looks shinier than the 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.
If you hear coyotes during the night and have heard a disturbance in your yard, you may have 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 flooded 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 are also known to attack if cornered or if their pups are around. There have been two instances of a coyote killing someone in North America.
How To Deter Coyotes From Your Yard?
Coyotes are scavengers and will seek out food where they can get it. You will need first to 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 it angles outwards, making it harder for the coyote to get in. The wall 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 from coming in. If they do not jump the wall, they use their paws on top of the wall to pull themselves up. The rollers stop this from happening.
How To Scare Away A Coyote
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 coyotes away and other pests such as raccoons. It has a motion sensor, and I have a lot fewer coyotes coming into my garden now. You can find it on Amazon here.
A hazing method deters coyotes and can help you move them out of the area. Hazing helps maintain the coyote’s fear of humans and can prevent them from returning to your yard. Hazing uses noises to alert the coyote to your presence.
Stand your ground – Do not run away. By standing in your footwear, you show the coyote that you have no f. It is OK to back out slowly if the coyote shows to be adversarial.
Shout and use noise – Yelling and shouting at the coyote is the first thing you should try to scare the coyote away.
Noisemakers – If you have noisemakers, such as bells, music on your mobile phone, or even whistling, you can scare the coyote away.
If a coyote has not interacted 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, 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 in your yard or on a walk with you. 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 or keep the m close to you.
Coyotes, unless they are passing through, are only going to come into your yard for food. By tidying up your yard and making it more coyote-proof, you can keep these animals away.
If you find a coyote in your garden, I am confident that by using the tips above, you will be able to make them leave safely.
Bryan Harding is a member of the American Society of Mammalogists and a member of the American Birding Association. Bryan is especially fond of mammals and has studied and worked with them around the world. Bryan serves as owner, writer, and publisher of North American Nature.