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5 Coyote Control Methods that Don’t Work (and 4 that Do)

5 Coyote Control Methods that Don’t Work (and 4 that Do)

I recently had a friendly conversation with an anti-hunter who believed that animal lives were as valuable as human lives, and every creature had a right to live. He believed that since he can sustain himself without actively taking the life of other animals like cows, pigs, goats, or chickens, everyone should do so.

However, he is blissfully unaware of the ravenous plague affecting thousands of ranchers and homesteaders across the United States: the coyote. Known by Native Americans as a god of mischief, the coyote has been killing livestock ever since mankind began the practice of animal husbandry in the western hemisphere.

The animal that plagued the early settlers of the Wild West continues to be a thorn in the side of ranchers even today. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, coyotes across the United States kill more than 300,000 livestock animals every year and injure even more. The coyote, by its very nature, directly interferes with our economy and the way of life for livestock owners all across the country.

Despite this, some (like my friend mentioned above) believe that killing coyotes is the wrong approach and that nonlethal deterrence will lead to man and coyote living together in relative harmony. From the non-hunter’s point of view, there are numerous methods that wouldn’t harm the American “song dog,” but many of these methods have significant drawbacks.


Why can’t we just tranquilize them?

The idea behind tranquilizing a dangerous animal is that it can be safely relocated elsewhere after a little nap. However, dart guns are few and far between, use very expensive ammo, and usually have no hope of reaching a target beyond 50 yards. This is problematic since a coyote’s sensitive hearing and nose can detect most creatures within 300 yards by smell and/or hearing alone. Using a dart gun to bring down a coyote would require the shooter to sneak up to within 50 yards of the animal—well within sniffing distance—and try to land a shot without being detected. Coyote hunting is already difficult enough without having to shoot the animal at close range. Getting within 50 yards of a skittish coyote is nearly impossible.

Why don’t you build an electric fence?

While an electric fence can keep your property safe from bears, deer, or people, the coyote is a master problem solver. Capable of jumping seven feet high or digging under the fence, the coyote is motivated solely by the food on the other side of the barrier and will try every trick in the book to get it. During winter, the coyote’s fur becomes so thick that it insulates against the electric shock, allowing the animal to simply walk through the fence. While the USDA advocates for electric fences to keep coyotes out of your property, they emphasize that there must be a 28-inch wire or sheet metal apron buried underground to prevent digging, which becomes less feasible the more land one has.

What about making some noise?

Scaring an animal off your property by making a loud noise or otherwise appearing to be strange or threatening is called hazing. Its success varies based on the individual coyote. Forest-dwelling coyotes will be more susceptible to hazing, but city-dwelling scavengers will be more desensitized to loud noises. Either way, a determined, starving coyote may eventually realize it is not being physically stopped, ignore the noises, and go straight for the livestock.

Shine a light on it!

Coyotes are not exclusively nocturnal animals. They are opportunistic scavengers that hunt day or night and do not have a natural fear of light. They are, however, wary of changes in their environment and are known to observe their prey to come up with a plan of attack. A coyote’s reaction to bright light varies. A wary animal might avoid a brightly lit chicken coop for several days before finding the courage to strike, while a bright light might also actually attract a coyote. Hunters use high-lumen predator lights to light up coyotes’ eyes in the night, and many times a coyote will stop and stare at the source of the light before investigating it. A stationary white light that’s always on will, over the course of several nights, seem like “business as usual” to a stalking coyote, which will then be emboldened to strike.

What about scent repellants?

Coyotes, like all canids, rely heavily on their noses. It should come as no surprise then that there are a vast number of scent-based deterrents available throughout the outdoor and hunting industry. While these products that smell like wolves, bears, or ammonia work, they only work for certain coyote populations within certain areas. For example, a coyote in northwest Montana would be very familiar with the scent of a wolf, and wolf pee spilled all over a property would be an excellent deterrent. However, a Texan coyote would have no idea what a wolf or bear smells like, and a Texan rancher would have little choice but to use something like human urine or vinegar. For this method to work, the scent would have to be reapplied every day, which could be prohibitively expensive.


Now, we’ve gone over methods that might not work, but coyote deterrence is important, so here are methods that can achieve measurable results:


Use Guard Animals

Guard animals are a great way to keep coyotes away from property. Each type of animal brings unique strengths to the job. For instance, alpacas have a natural dislike for canines and are known to chase away intruders. Their presence alone can be a strong deterrent, as they are alert and can be quite protective.

Dogs, especially breeds like Great Pyrenees or Anatolian Shepherds, are also excellent at warding off coyotes. They can patrol large areas and are very territorial. However, coyotes are cunning and can sometimes trick dogs or lure them away, creating an opportunity to slip past the defenses.

Donkeys, particularly jennies (female donkeys), are also effective in coyote control. They have a strong instinct to protect their territory and will kick or bite intruders. Their loud braying can also alert humans to a predator's presence, adding an extra layer of security.

Guinea fowl, while smaller, are incredibly noisy and alert. Their loud calls can serve as an early warning system when a coyote is nearby. However, their size makes them vulnerable, and they can fall prey to the very predators they are supposed to deter.

Using one or a combination of these animals can enhance property security. Alpacas and donkeys provide physical deterrence with their size and aggression, dogs offer mobility and territorial defense, and guinea fowl add an auditory alert system. Together, they create a multi-layered defense that makes it much harder for coyotes to cause trouble.



Fladry is a clever and simple method used to keep coyotes at bay. It's basically a line of brightly colored rags tied to a string, creating a barrier that looks strange and out of place to carnivores. This unfamiliar sight makes coyotes wary, and they often avoid crossing it. According to the USDA, this method can be effective for up to 3 or 4 months, depending on the individual coyote's behavior and adaptability.

The effectiveness of fladry comes from its ability to tap into the natural caution of coyotes. These animals are naturally suspicious of new and unusual objects in their environment. The brightly colored rags fluttering in the wind create an unpredictable movement that further discourages them from approaching.

Interestingly, this technique isn't just used for coyotes. Russian wolf hunters have long used fladry to corral wolves, creating a shrinking perimeter to narrow down the search area for the hunting party. The same principles apply—wolves, like coyotes, are cautious about crossing the unfamiliar barrier.

For property owners dealing with coyote issues, fladry can be an effective, low-tech solution. Setting up a line of fladry around a property can provide a temporary but reliable deterrent, helping to keep livestock and pets safe from coyote predation. While it may not be a permanent fix, it's a useful tool in the ongoing effort to manage and reduce coyote encounters.


Snares and Traps

Snares can be a powerful tool for capturing or killing coyotes, though it's important to note that they're not legal in every state. In places where they are allowed, snares have proven to be very effective. These traps should be set with care at known coyote entrance and exit points. Coyotes are creatures of habit, often using the same paths to dig under or leap over fences, making it easier to predict where to place the snares.

When setting snares, precision is key. Placing them at the exact spots where coyotes frequently travel increases the chances of a successful capture. However, it's crucial to be extremely careful to avoid accidentally trapping non-target animals like dogs or livestock. Using snares responsibly means regularly checking them and ensuring they are set in locations less likely to be accessed by pets or farm animals.

For those interested in using snares, the USDA offers excellent resources on how to construct and set them properly. These guides can provide valuable information on the best practices for using snares effectively and humanely, helping to minimize unintended captures while maximizing the chances of catching coyotes. Whether the goal is to capture and relocate or to reduce the coyote population, following these guidelines is essential for safety and effectiveness.


Just Shoot Em

One of the most straightforward and effective ways to manage coyote damage to livestock is simply to shoot them. In 2022, ranchers and farmers spent about $51.4 million on nonlethal predator management methods, such as guard animals, fencing, and deterrents like fladry. Despite this significant investment, these methods resulted in the removal of 56,089 coyotes. On the other hand, hunters and trappers managed to kill an average of 68,562 coyotes in 2023 without incurring nearly as much expense.

For those who choose to shoot coyotes, having the right equipment can make a big difference. Products like Kopfjäger tripods are invaluable tools for this task. These tripods, especially when combined with night vision or red coyote hunting lights, allow hunters to maintain weapon stability while sitting and waiting for coyotes to appear. This setup not only improves accuracy but also makes it easier to spot and target coyotes in low-light conditions.

Using such advanced equipment can enhance the effectiveness of coyote hunting, making it a more efficient solution for protecting livestock. By focusing on lethal methods like shooting, ranchers and farmers can potentially save money and reduce coyote populations more effectively, helping to safeguard their livestock from these persistent predators.


To shop Kopfjäger Tripods, click here

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