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Will coyotes attack you if they see you?

Quick Answer

Coyotes are generally afraid of humans and avoid people whenever possible. However, in rare cases, coyotes may attack humans, especially small children. This usually only happens when the coyote is sick or feels threatened. To avoid coyote attacks, it’s important not to feed or interact with coyotes and to take precautions like yelling, waving your arms, or throwing rocks to scare them away. Overall, the risk of a coyote attack is very low as long as you take proper precautions.

Will a coyote attack a human?

Coyotes are wild animals that generally avoid humans as much as possible. They prefer to hunt small mammals like rats, rabbits, and squirrels rather than larger prey. As a result, coyote attacks on humans are extremely rare. According to statistics, there are only around 150 reported coyote attacks on adults each year across the United States and Canada. Most of these incidents involve the coyote biting or scratching the person as they attempt to scare them away from a den or feeding site. Serious injuries from coyote attacks are even rarer, with only around a dozen per year that require extensive medical treatment.

So in general, the chances of being attacked by a coyote are very slim. Coyotes simply do not see humans as prey and will usually run away rather than fight if confronted. However, there are certain circumstances that can increase the risk of a coyote attack.

Circumstances that may cause coyote attacks

  • Provoked or cornered coyote – If a coyote feels threatened, they may attack in self-defense.
  • Sick or injured coyote – Rabid or mangy coyotes may lose their fear of humans and attack without provocation.
  • Predatory coyote – In rare cases, individual coyotes may begin to aggressively hunt small pets or even view humans as prey.
  • Habituated coyote – Coyotes that have been fed by humans can lose fear and expect food, leading to bold behavior.
  • Protecting den site – Coyotes are more likely to attack if they think their pups in a den are in danger.
  • Time of year – Coyotes are bolder and more aggressive when protecting dens and teaching pups to hunt in spring and summer.

So while unprovoked coyote attacks are unlikely, it’s important to take precautions and not encourage coyotes to view humans as a food source or threat to their territory.

Will coyotes attack dogs?

Coyotes may sometimes go after small pets, especially cats and small dogs (under 25 pounds). This is still relatively uncommon, but does happen in residential areas where coyotes have become habituated to living near humans. Coyotes see pets as potential prey and may try to lure dogs away from their owners or attack them during walks. Larger dogs are also at risk of being attacked if they appear to be threatening a coyote den site.

To protect dogs from coyotes:

  • Never leave small pets unattended outside
  • Keep dogs on a leash in coyote areas
  • Do not let dogs interact or play with coyotes
  • Avoid known coyote dens while walking dogs
  • Pick up and dispose of pet food outside
  • Trim ground cover to reduce hiding places around the home

Taking these precautions can minimize the risk of coyote attacks on pets. But ultimately, supervised larger dogs are much safer from coyotes than smaller dogs, cats, or unattended pets.

Will coyotes attack children?

Coyotes are unlikely to attack an adult human being unless threatened or provoked. However, children can sometimes be viewed as potential prey since they are smaller and weaker. While very rare, there have been several cases of coyotes seriously injuring or killing small children:

Year Location Victim(s)
1981 Glendale, California 3-year-old girl (Kelly Keen)
1983 Madera County, California 3-year-old girl (Jaimee Elise Utt)
2009 Nova Scotia, Canada 19-month-old girl (Taylor Mitchell)

To protect children, experts recommend:

  • Closely supervise kids outside, especially under age 10
  • Teach children to recognize coyotes and report them to adults
  • Explain that coyotes may view kids as prey and to never approach them
  • Pick up children immediately and report if a coyote approaches or follows you

Following these tips can help keep children safe from the already rare possibility of a coyote attack. But overall, the statistical risk is extremely low, even for kids.

Will coyotes attack humans during the day?

Coyotes are most active at night and dawn/dusk. However, they can also be active during daylight hours. Urban coyotes that live near humans are more likely to be seen during the day as they adapt to human schedules. A daytime sighting does not necessarily make a coyote more dangerous. But it does mean the coyote may be losing its natural fear of humans, which requires extra caution.

If you see a coyote during the day:

  • Watch it closely but do not approach
  • Yell, wave your arms, and throw rocks if it seems unaware of you
  • Back away if it moves closer and maintain eye contact
  • Report daylight coyote sightings so animal control can monitor the situation

Provided you take proper precautions like these, the time of day likely makes little difference in terms of risk of an attack by a coyote. Their natural avoidance of humans tends to prevail regardless.

Will coyotes attack if you run away?

It’s a myth that running away from a coyote will trigger its predator instincts and cause it to chase after you. Coyotes do sometimes chase small fleeing prey, but not humans.

In fact, running away can help de-escalate an encounter with a coyote. The key is to run boldly away while yelling and maintaining eye contact over your shoulder. Turning your back and running in fear may trigger a chase response in rare cases. So be sure to stand tall, wave your arms, and demonstrate you are not prey before accelerating away without turning your back. This shows the coyote you are not scared, avoids triggering a chase, and effectively ends the interaction.

So running away is actually a good strategy once you’ve established dominance over the coyote. Just do it confidently while continuing to haze the coyote as you depart rather than fleeing in terror.

Will coyotes come near you if they’re not afraid of humans?

Yes, habituated coyotes that have lost their fear of humans are more likely to approach, follow, and potentially attack people. This is why it’s crucial not to feed or interact with coyotes when you encounter them.

Some signs a coyote may have become habituated include:

  • Active during daylight hours
  • Does not run away from humans
  • Follows or approaches people and pets
  • Remains near residences even when hazed

If you notice these signs, it means the coyote has likely lost its natural wariness and may need to be either relocated or even euthanized before a human confrontation turns dangerous. Removing food attractants, yelling, throwing rocks, spraying with a hose, and reporting sightings can help reverse habituation before it gets to that point.

But ultimately, a coyote that no longer fears humans is more likely to approach, attack pets, and even attack people in rare cases. So it’s critical to break that habituation process through hazing early on.

Will a coyote attack you for no reason?

It’s highly unlikely a coyote will attack a human completely unprovoked. Coyotes instinctively fear people and will usually flee rather than fight when confronted. However, there are certain exceptions when their natural wariness is overridden. Reasons a coyote may attack unprovoked include:

  • Rabies – Rabid coyotes lose their natural fear and become aggressive.
  • Habituation – Coyotes accustomed to humans no longer avoid them.
  • Predation – In rare cases, some coyotes may begin to actively hunt pets or people.
  • Defense of den – Coyotes aggressively defend the area around a den with pups.
  • Pet protection – They may attack an unfamiliar dog near their territory.

But outside of these scenarios, coyotes have an ingrained fear of humans and do not view people as normal prey. So attacks are usually the result of provocation, sickness, territorial defense, or occasionally predatory behavior – not random unprovoked aggression. By not feeding coyotes, giving them space, and properly scaring them away from residences, attacks can almost always be avoided.


In conclusion, the chances of being attacked by a coyote remain extremely low for most people provided proper precautions are taken. Avoid feeding coyotes, supervise pets and children outdoors, and use scare tactics like yelling, waving arms, or throwing rocks to discourage coyotes from becoming too comfortable around humans. Attacks may happen in rare circumstances when coyotes are sick, defending dens, or have become habituated to humans. But statistically, coyote attacks are very rare events that can be further minimized by educating yourself on deterrent methods and smart prevention strategies. Ultimately, learning coyote safety tips can give you confidence if you ever encounter one of these normally shy wild canines.