Coyotes are elusive and shy creatures, and often they won’t even let you see them. However, when you see one, you may be alarmed by how close you came to running into it. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. The coyote is one of the most common wildlife sightings in the United States, and for a good reason.
They’re common in urban and rural areas, making them hard to avoid. Unless you’re living in the country or a remote area, there’s a good chance you’ll see a coyote at some point. And if you do see one, you should know what to do.
This article will take you through everything you need to know about coyotes.
Read on for tips on what to do if you see a Coyote while hiking and what you should avoid doing to keep the coyote away from your hike.
What are the features of a Coyote?
A Coyote is a member of the dog family native to North America. Coyotes can be found all over the United States, from the Arctic tundra to the southern deserts. Still, its natural range also includes parts of Canada, Central America, and South America.
The coyote has a stocky build with a bushy tail and small, rounded ears.
Adult coyotes are typically between 4 and 6 feet long, while the tail adds another 3 to 4 feet. The coyote is an active hunter and will eat just about anything, including insects, rodents, small reptiles, eggs, and fruits.
Urban coyotes have also been known to eat garbage, including dog and cat food.
How to keep Coyotes away from your hike
For a coyote to threaten your hike, it must live nearby and access food and shelter. This can occur in one of two ways:
- Direct competition for food
- Resources or indirect competition.
With direct competition, the coyote and the animal you’re hiking with seeing each other as threats. Direct competition usually occurs when livestock grazes in coyotes’ areas for hunting.
Because livestock and wild animals feed on the same food sources, the presence of livestock creates a conflict for the coyotes.
On the other hand, indirect competition stems from the coyote’s need to survive in an urban or rural area. Because coyotes are territorial animals, they require space to survive and breed.
When humans encroach on that space, the coyotes may attempt to move into your area to avoid conflict.
The best way to keep coyotes away from your hike is not to feed them. If you see a coyote in your neighborhood, do your best to keep your cat food and dog food indoors. This will eliminate one food source for the coyote and prevent it from making a home in an area that may be dangerous to humans (such as close to a hiking trail).
If you see a coyote while hiking, it’s time to be smart. Keep these tips in mind while you hike through urban or rural areas:
A coyote that begins chasing or coming towards you or your family should always be a malicious threat.
It would help if you never tried to run away, as this can cause the coyote to become more territorial or aggressive.
Instead, do your best to stand your ground, “showing” the coyote that it doesn’t have an advantage over humans. If the coyote does not retreat and you feel threatened, don’t worry about being cool and throwing rocks- slow down and pick up any loud object– like a clapping rock- and throw it at the coyote in an attempt to scare it away from you.
That action is nicknamed “throwing rocks for love” by some hikers!
These big rocks are often located near a campsite, so hikers-in-training can make their fire for cooking marshmallows late at night.
You can also clap your arms together (make sure disc-cutting hands are tucked away) and yell at the coyote to make it retreat!
The idea is to make yourself look big, loud, and fearless. Avoid any unnecessary conflicts by keeping your home as coyote-free as possible!
Your local officials will likely suggest you scare them away with horns or loud noises if they come into the more populated areas of the city.
What to avoid doing to keep the coyote away from your hike
For coyotes to approach humans, they need to know the humans are there to eat or be eaten.
To keep the coyote away from your hike, avoid doing any of the following:
- Do your best to avoid making a lot of noise while hiking. This means keeping your voice down when you’re hiking, being careful not to make noise with your hands, and making sure no one is talking or laughing too loudly in a vehicle nearby.
- Don’t approach or chase the coyote. The coyote may interpret your chase as a threat, which could cause it to react aggressively.
- Don’t wear any clothing that smells like you or that may be scented. This includes perfume, body lotion, and toothpaste.
- Don’t wear something that may look like a predator animal– such as skulls and coyote feet,
- Help keep your home coyote sterile by storing trash securely and nicing up pet food bowls. The more people and homes threaten their normal activities, the more likely a daily glimpse at a pet or landscaped yard is seen as an invitation to stay for dinner!
How many species of coyotes are there?
There are two species of the coyote:
The Eastern Coyote, which includes all subspecies, and the Western Coyote. The Western Coyote is a smaller, brindled animal with a narrow snout. The Eastern Coyote has a larger skull and wider snout than its western counterpart.
What do coyotes eat?
Coyotes eat small mammals (such as mice), reptiles such as snakes, amphibians such as frogs, birds like waterfowl or grouse, insects like grasshoppers and beetles, fruit such as berries or melons, nuts like acorns or walnuts, vegetation such as corn or wheat (they don’t just eat rodents!), and even carrion (dead animals).
They also scavenge human trash for food.
How do you know if it’s a coyote?
The size of a coyote will vary by region.
- In general, they’re smaller than dogs but larger than foxes.
- Their coats are a mottled grey on top, with lighter fur underneath.
- They have a narrow muzzle and pointed ears.
- Their legs are long, and their feet are large and padded to help them run fast.
Remember that coyotes are wild animals and should be treated with respect. Don’t approach them, don’t feed them, and make sure not to trail your pets behind you. These tips will help keep the coyote away from your hike and enjoy time in the woods.