The coyote (Canis latrans) is a canine native to North America. Coyotes are smaller than its close relative, the gray wolf, and slightly smaller than the closely related eastern wolf and red wolf.
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Coyotes exist in wide distribution and abundance throughout North America, southwards through Mexico, and into Central America.
Coyote males average 8 to 20 kg (18 to 44 lb) in weight, while females average 7 to 18 kg (15 to 40 lb), though size varies geographically. Northern subspecies, which average 18 kg (40 lb), tend to grow larger than the southern subspecies of Mexico, which average 11.5 kg (25 lb). Body length ranges on average from 1.0 to 1.35 m (3 ft 3 in to 4 ft 5 in), and tail length 40 cm (16 in), with females being shorter in both body length and height. The largest coyote on record was a male killed near Afton, Wyoming, on November 19, 1937, which measured 1.5 m (4 ft 11 in) from nose to tail, and weighed 34 kg (75 lb).
Coyotes that don’t run away when encountering humans are most likely accustomed or habituated to people. Habituation generally occurs when a coyote has been fed with handouts or by pet food left outside, or by unsecured garbage.
Coyotes who come to depend on these sources of food may begin to approach humans looking for a handout and may begin to exhibit what’s perceived as “too tame” or aggressive behavior.
When coyotes become habituated, hazing can re-instill their natural fear of humans. Hazing, such as banging pots and pans, uses these scare techniques frighten coyotes and re-establish their fear of humans.
Some recommend using the following techniques to scare a coyote away; however, coyotes have been known to attack or at least bite humans when they get too close.
Yelling and waving your arms while approaching the coyote
Use whistles, air horns, bells, “shaker” cans, pots or pans banged together
Projectiles: sticks, small rocks, cans, tennis balls or rubber balls
Water hoses, water guns with vinegar water, spray bottles with vinegar water, pepper spray or bear repellent.
Coyotes don’t typically attack humans, but as they creep into urban areas in the US, your pets may be at risk. They may view large dogs as rivals, and small dogs and cats as prey. Here are tips to keep you and your pets safe.