Stages of Coyote (Canis latrans) Aggression
Robert H. Schmidt of Utah State University, Logan, UT, USA and Robert M. Timm of the Hopland Research & Extension Center, University of California, Hopland, CA, USA authored an interesting paper entitled “Bad Dogs” Why do Coyotes and Other Canids Become Unruly? published in the Proceedings of the 12th Wildlife Damage Management Conference (D.L. Nolte, W.M. Arjo, D.H. Stalman, Eds). 2007.
As the title suggests, the authors reviewed how canids in general and coyotes in particular transition from fearing humans and their presence to attacking them. Among the nuggets of information they provide is a reference to the work of Rex Baker and Robert Timm (same author as this article) which outlines the stages of coyote aggression.
Stages of Coyote Aggression
The stages are as follows in increasing order of severity:
- An increase in observing coyotes on streets and in yards at night.
- An increase in coyotes approaching adults and/or taking pets at night.
- Early morning and late afternoon daylight observance of coyotes on streets and in parks and yards.
- Daylight observance of coyotes chasing or taking pets.
- Coyotes attacking and taking pets on leash or in close proximity to their owners; coyotes chasing joggers,bicyclists, and other adults.
- Coyotes seen in and around children’s play areas, school grounds, and parks in mid-day.
- Coyotes acting aggressively toward adults during mid-day”
These behavioral descriptions are extremely useful in evaluating reported behavior to help determine whether the coyote is a potential threat to human health and safety. After all, some will fear the very sight of a coyote. I would hope that communities wouldn’t launch a coyote eradication program simply because a coyote was spotted. The categories described by Rex and Timm help animal damage control professionals and animal control officers decide whether a lethal intervention is necessary.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel, CWCP is a specialist in wildlife damage management and human-wildlife relations issues. He is available for presentations, writing, and consultation. His latest book is the National Wildlife Control Training Program (2010) available from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Cornell Universities.