What To Do If You See a Coyote: Life Saving Tips!

coyote gazing
Coyotes are nocturnal animals and typically won't be seen during the day. If you see a coyote, back away slowly. Do not run away. Instead, yell, make loud noises, or bang items together. Wave your arms wildly. Do not corner it. You can try throwing something at the coyote, like sticks or rocks. Alternatively, spray it with water or pepper spray or bear spray.

It is helpful to know about coyote behavior and what you should do to remain safe.

Are coyotes dangerous?

Generally, coyotes are not dangerous. Despite their sharp claws and sharp teeth, coyotes are naturally timid creatures. Coyote sightings are more common in rural areas than urban or suburban areas.

Just like any wild animal, coyotes can carry diseases that can be dangerous. Coyotes are rabies carriers, which can be contracted through bites and scratches. 

Will a coyote attack a human?

It is rare for a coyote to attack a human. Coyotes typically show fear of people.

When a coyote is not running away with humans nearby, this is usually because the coyote has been fed by humans before. This could be through hand feeding, trash on the ground or in trash cans, or pet food that is kept outside. 

Intentional or hand-feeding a coyote can result in a coyote attack. Most of the coyote attacks reported have been due to feeding a coyote. Some people get bitten by a coyote when trying to save their pet from a coyote attack.

It is more common to get bitten by a coyote than to be killed by a coyote. People, in very rare instances, may be attacked by a cornered coyote or a coyote with rabies. 

You should call the police department or animal control if a coyote exhibits unprovoked aggressive behavior. 

multiple coyotes in grass and on rock

Will a coyote attack a dog?

Coyotes are more likely to attack pets than people. Coyotes view large dogs as rivals and competitors.

Coyotes see smaller dogs and cats as food sources. Small dogs and other small pets risk being attacked by coyotes. Sometimes, the loud barking from a large dog will be enough to scare off a coyote. 

What to do if you see a coyote: 7 life-saving tips

If you see a coyote, it is best to leave it alone and leave its area as soon as possible. If the coyote is not bothering or approaching you, don’t engage with it.

If the coyote approaches you, however, here are some tips on what you should do:

  • Do not run away.
  • Yell and make loud noises such as clapping or use items to create loud noises.
  • Wave your arms wildly.
  • Do not corner it.
  • Throw something at the coyote, such as sticks or small rocks.
  • Spray it with water, pepper spray, or bear spray.
  • Back away slowly. 

You want the coyote to fear you and see you as a threat, so making yourself as big and loud as possible is the key to scaring the coyote away. 

Coyote breeding occurs in February and March. Therefore, coyote pups can be born anytime between March and May. During these months, coyotes, especially males, will be more aggressive in protecting their babies. It is wise to calmly walk away from a coyote during this time of year rather than pose any threat. 

coyote in a field of brown grass

What are coyotes scared of?

Coyotes have a justified natural fear of humans, so your presence alone should be enough to scare the coyote away.

Coyotes are afraid of loud noises, bright lights, and objects being thrown. They also fear the urine of predators, especially wolves. The smell of wolf urine will make the coyote think that a wolf has claimed the area or that a wolf is nearby and will flee. 

What do you do if a coyote is near you?

If you see a coyote nearby, it is imperative not to run. Running will make the coyote think you are prey and begin to chase you. 

If you know beforehand that you’re going into an area where coyotes reside, you should bring something that makes loud noises, such as a can of rocks that you can shake in case you encounter a wild animal. 

Coyotes may approach you for food but do not feed coyotes. Instead, make loud noises to scare it away. This will reteach the coyote to fear humans rather than rely on them for food.

This act of teaching a coyote to fear you without harming it is called hazing. 

fleeing coyote

What does it mean when a coyote is barking?

Coyotes typically bark to warn others not to enter their territory. They bark at predators and humans to warn them to stay away. Coyotes especially bark when they are protecting their young.

Their bark sounds almost identical to a dog’s bark. 

Coyotes also bark at other coyotes that are not members of their pack. This is because nonmembers are not allowed on their territory. 

Coyotes will bark to alert their pack of a possible threat, whether that threat is nearby or distant. They howl right after they bark to communicate that the threat is nearby and approaching.

Coyotes may howl when they sense distant danger, but because howling can be heard farther away than barking, this is usually only when their pack is not close.

What to do if a coyote is chasing you?

Coyotes can actually run up to 40 miles per hour, so you will not be able to outrun a coyote. Running will make the coyote chase you.

If it starts chasing you, don’t run, but remain where you are, wave your arms, and make noise. If these actions don’t scare it off, walk away slowly and continue to avoid running.

Do not turn your back to it, and make sure you maintain eye contact.

water coyote walking on an asphalt road

Will a whistle scare off a coyote?

Whistles will scare coyotes. Coyotes are startled by loud noises, so making any type of loud noise will make them leave.

Carrying a whistle or other noisemaker when being outdoors is wise as many wild animals are afraid of loud noises. Carrying a whistle would be especially helpful while hiking or camping.

Do coyotes travel in packs?

Coyotes are social animals that travel in packs. The members of their pack can be part of their immediate family but aren’t always. Their packs aren’t as large in number as wolf packs. There are about five to six adult wolves in a pack. 

The individual coyotes may hunt alone, but they keep their pack in mind while hunting, attacking large mammals to bring leftovers for the pack to eat. The wolves in the pack help each other protect their territory. They will also sometimes travel in packs to work together to hunt an animal. 

When coyote pups become adults, they may remain with their parents’ pack or will venture off to find a different pack to join. They also may mate and create a new pack.


Whitney is a graduate of Georgetown College and a current graduate student at the University of the Cumberlands. She resides in the beautiful state of Kentucky, which she has always appreciated and endeavors to maintain the land's well-being. A lover of animals and the earth, Whitney strives to communicate accurate information that will help readers learn new information, ideas, and become informed stewards of the natural world.

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