In this thread–

a number of Dopers claimed that coyotes were harmless to Humans.

The beasts beg to differ.

Not harmless.

They’re usually harmless. Any animal could attack under the right circumstances.

That said, I would be uncomfortable if I ran into a pack and was alone.

Nope, not harmless.

I used to live out in a desert town in the middle of an enormous state park. Coyotes were everywhere. Some of the town residents thought they should feed the cute coyotes, because they looked hungry. What we got were coyotes that were habituated to people and associated us with food. Pets were eaten in their backyards. Then, one night, a coyote tried to grab a 12-year-old boy from his sleeping bag while his family camped in the park. The boy’s father and uncle heard his yells and saved him. The coyote had to be hunted down and destroyed.

Nope, coyotes are not harmless.

I was just coming on here to post about that. Very scary - any predator, including packs of loose dogs, has the potential to attack and kill, but coyotes had honestly never entered my radar screen as a threat to people.

ETA: I don’t know a lot about coyotes, but what I have heard has never convinced me that coyotes are that afraid of people – they’ve moved into Rock Creek Park in D.C., FFS! That takes serious balls for a wild animal.

Maybe they’re just ruthless critics.

That entry has been revised. Of course it was somewhat cut due to space restrictions, but still an improvement.

Mostly harmless.


I don’t care if they hold the doors for little old ladys and shit Wurther’s Originals. I’m taking the shot any time I can get it.

They eat my wife’s cats, and that makes her sad. I like shooting (at) them, and that makes me happy.

Full coyotes are typically so small and timid that they will not approach a healthy human of pubescent age or smaller; ditto for cattle, although they will attack unattended young or ill beasts. Coyotes have been known to hybridize with domestic canis, which can make for a feral dog with more aggressive tendencies. Because people have displaced the grey wolf (which is typically the dominant apex predator) the more adaptable coyote has to some extent filled that role, possibly leading to some groups becoming more aggressive than they would in the presence of a more vigorous predator, albeit still not generally enough to be a threat to people. The grey fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) is actually more aggressive toward people based on the number of injury incidents, albeit most likely in defense of kills.

Coyotes are actually very useful in terms of controlling vermin populations which can be highly destructive and carry infectious pests, so while it is necessary to keep their population levels managed, it is desirable to have a sustained population, however unhealthy this may be to toy dogs and domestic cats that are permitted outside without supervision.


Eh. Aeschylus was supposedly killed by a tortoise dropping out of the sky. There will always be outliers who manage to choke to death swallowing a goldfish or who trip over a kitten and plunge down six flights of stairs.

A single coyote carrying off a 12-year-old boy? Was this kid disabled in some way…and filled with helium?

I encountered a small “pack” of 5 coyotes when I was jogging one time. This was in an open space preserve in San Diego (Los Peñasquitos Canyon), it was just staring to get dark. came around a bend in the trail and there they were, about 20 feet away. I hesitated for a moment–they didn’t back off, they just stood there and looked at me. Not the usual coyote behavior I was used to–they’re usually pretty skittish and run away. I didn’t sense any aggression, but it was disconcerting; they seemed to be sizing me up. I gave them a wide berth and didn’t go running there for a couple of weeks after that.

This happened about an hours drive from my place, I 'm really not all that surprised. I have seen them in groups in the woods during ground search and rescue operations, and one time they had surrounded one of the SARS when his ATV was stuck. Here is a piece of an interesting article about the coyotes around here that appeared in a local paper today.

Also from another article today.

I’m not saying it’s impossible, but a lone coyote trying to drag off a sleeping 12-year-old boy is extremely unlikely, and pretty remarkably deviant from typical coyote behavior. For starters, coyotes are actually really tiny (like, 50 pounds at absolute largest).

If coyotes are habituated to your town, well - they were probably there first, and it’s your fault. If you see a coyote in town, scare it away. They’re pretty skittish by nature and will only make a habit of hanging out around humans if you give them incentives.

If you find it hard to believe that a coyote tried to drag off a young kid keep in mind that the average weight for a pitbull is 35 to 65 pounds.

We have a pack of coyotes that have been attacking dogs and cats in the neighborhood. They attacked a sheltie right in his own backyard. The owner found the carcass in the nearby woods. A week later they took out a husky, whose stupid owners put him out on a leash. Poor guy didn’t stand a chance. :frowning: My husband took our beagle into the nature preserve, against my specific and repeated warnings. The dog chased one of the coyotes in the path right in front of my husband. Thank God he’s slow and has a bad knee (the dog, not my husband), so he was able to catch him before he was lured into the pack.

One lady recently put up a poster with a huge picture of a white terrier, with “REWARD! $500” written underneath it.

We are so dark-humored that each time we pass the sign, we wonder if Wile E. has called to claim his reward yet.

pokes nose into thread
looks around
slowly backs out of thread

Never miss a chance, do you?

Suddenly I don’t feel so bad about nailing one with my car a couple years ago. :smiley:

Cue the inevitable demonization of what is normally a harmless animal, just like with wolves. In fact, we can lay the increasing population of coyotes at our very own feet, since they are successfully expanding into the ecological niches left vacant by our shooting every goddamn wolf we could find.

In short, yes, there are outliers. And keep your cats inside.