Can You Shoot Coyotes in Your Yard? (Is This Illegal to Do?)

When coyotes make your yard their territory, it can be terrifying for you as a homeowner. To protect your home and family, you might be wondering if you can shoot coyotes that venture into your yard. Is this legal to do though?

Most states allow you to shoot a coyote in your yard if it acts as a nuisance. This can be anything from attacking your pets to eating your crops. However, this is only allowed if you live in a rural area. You cannot shoot at a coyote if you live within city limits.

Although this may sound simple, killing coyotes can get complicated under different circumstances. We will let you know precisely what you need to know when it comes to shooting a coyote.

We’ll also show you ways to prevent coyotes from entering your yard in the first place. 

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Here’s a Quick Pro Tip!

Coyotes are known to wreak havoc on your property, destroying gardens and injuring pets.

You should always implement prevention methods to keep the coyotes away in the first place.

Here are some tools to help you scare off coyotes for good:

1. Ammonium – Soak some rags with ammonia and place them around your yard to deter the coyotes

2. Motion-activated Lights – Lights are known to scare off coyotes

3. Blow horn – Blow this extremely loud horn if coyotes enter your property to scare them off

The Laws on Shooting Coyotes

The most important matter to consider when dealing with coyotes is whether it’s legal to shoot a coyote that enters your yard. As we go through this section, be mindful that state laws will differ depending on where you live. 

Can I Shoot a Coyote in My Yard?

You can shoot a coyote in your yard if it creates a problem, such as eating livestock, pets, or destroying crops. This only applies to properties outside of city limits in rural areas. Other laws may apply and affect this. 

The state of New York classifies menacing coyotes as ‘problem coyotes’. These coyotes are allowed to be killed at all times of the year if they injure private property, including animals and crops. 

However, other laws may affect whether or not you can shoot the coyote. For example, in New York, you have to be at least 500 ft away from another dwelling to fire a gun.

But, if you have permission from the dwelling owner, you are allowed. 

Can I Kill Coyotes on My Property?

If you live in a rural area, you can kill coyotes on your property if they are acting as a nuisance. If you live within city limits, you are not allowed. Most cities have laws preventing any gun from being fired in cities. 

Firing a gun on your property if you live in the city is too dangerous for your neighbors. Since houses are closer together, a bullet can land somewhere unintended.

This is why shooting anything within city limits is illegal in most cities.

But, if you live in a rural area and have a coyote problem, you are likely to be allowed to shoot the coyote. This applies to any time of the year.

However, your state may have different laws, so always consult with your state laws before shooting a coyote.

Can You Legally Kill Coyotes?

You are legally allowed to kill coyotes if you live in a rural area and the coyote is acting as a nuisance. If you are simply hunting coyotes, you may have to wait until hunting season begins. 

Since coyotes are a well-known nuisance, most states have implemented laws that allow the killing of coyotes year-round. But, you need to have good reason to kill the coyote and not do it just for fun.

Reasons to legally kill a coyote:

  • The coyote is attacking a pet
  • The coyote is destroying your crops
  • The coyote is attacking a family member
  • The coyote is attacking you
  • The coyote is attacking your livestock

You might also enjoy our post on If You Can Shoot a Bear on Your Property

Are Coyotes Considered Game?

Most states do not consider coyotes as game. Instead, they are considered fur-bearing mammals, the same category as wolves. This means that, in some states, they can be hunted all year long.

To hunt for coyotes, you must hold a valid hunting license. You can hunt for coyotes on private property with the owner’s permission of the land.

Before hunting for coyotes, check with your state laws to ensure you follow all requirements. 

Can You Shoot Coyotes All Year?

Most states allow you to shoot a coyote any time of the year as long as the coyote is acting as a nuisance. This can include injuring humans, pets, property, and livestock. This also only applies if you live outside of city limits.

Some states also allow you to hunt coyotes all year round. All you need is a valid hunting license of that state and, obviously, a license for your firearm. 

However, if you live in a city and are experiencing coyote problems, you cannot shoot the coyote yourself. Instead, you should implement coyote prevention methods and call your local animal control if you are experiencing severe problems. 

Do I Need a Hunting License to Shoot a Coyote in My Yard?

If coyotes are injuring anything on your property, you do not need a hunting license to shoot the coyote. Most states allow homeowners to shoot coyotes year-round if the coyote is creating problems. 

However, this only applies to people who live in rural areas. It is against most city laws to shoot a firearm within city limits.

You also have to be mindful of other shooting laws regarding how far away from another house or farm you have to be before you shoot the gun. 

Can I Shoot a Coyote Within City Limits?

Most states do not allow you to shoot any animals within city limits. The risk of accidentally shooting something else unintentionally is much higher when you are closely surrounded by other businesses and neighbors, compared to rural areas.

Even out in the country where you are allowed to shoot a coyote, most states still regulate how far away from a house you can be before you shoot the gun.

For example, in New York, you have to be at least 500 feet away from any house or farm before you can shoot a gun. This law does not apply if you have the landowner’s permission to shoot the gun near their property.

You might also enjoy our post on If You Can Shoot a Deer on Your Property

How to Prevent Coyotes From Being Attracted to Your Yard

As discussed, killing a coyote is legal in most states if you live in a rural area. But what about homeowners in the city? Let’s discuss why a coyote may be attracted to your yard and how you can prevent them from visiting. 

What Attracts Coyotes to Your Yard?

Coyotes are attracted to any yard that acts as a source of food. Therefore, your chances of having coyotes are increased when you leave pet food outdoors, table scraps on compost piles, and decaying fruit below fruit trees.

Coyotes are also interested in pets, especially cats and small dogs, sheep, and chickens. They may also be attracted to left-out garbage and birdseed.

Coyotes have a huge appetite and will be attracted to anything that provides food.

What to Do if Coyotes Are in Your Yard?

If you see coyotes in your yard, you should bring your pets in if they are outside. As well as any livestock you might have. You can temporarily scare the coyotes away by creating loud noises. 

Once all of your animals are safe and protected, you can continue to scare away the coyotes with loud noises. You can bang pots and pans together, use a blow horn, shout, and wave your arms in the air.  If you do not have anything on you, and are away from the house, you can throw rocks and sticks to scare the coyote.

The coyotes may return, so now is the time to start implementing some prevention methods that will deter the coyotes away in the future. 

Can You Pepper Spray a Coyote?

If a coyote comes close to you, you can use pepper spray to either harm or scare away the coyote. Pepper spray typically reaches 20 feet, which is plenty of room between you and the coyote.

If the coyote is further away, pepper spray will still act to scare off the coyote. It will see and hear the spray and consider it a threat so that it will retreat.

Using a bear spray is also just as effective, if not more.

Will a Coyote Come Up to My House?

A coyote will come up to your house if you leave food outside. Coyotes are not looking to kill you but only to steal your food. They are interested in anything from spoiled fruit to birdseed. 

This is why securing any outside garbage in a closed bin that a coyote cannot easily open is essential. You should also clean up any fallen fruit or birdseed on the ground and never leave pet food outside. 

How Do You Get Rid of Coyotes on Your Property?

The most effective way to eliminate coyotes on your property is to eliminate attractants. If coyotes do not have a reason to visit your front or backyard, they won’t.

Start by removing any food sources that might be attracting the coyotes in your front and backyard. This includes pet food, fallen fruit, birdseed on the ground, garbage, and compost. 

You can implement these practical strategies, as well:

  • Consider a guard dog
  • Fence in your property
  • Spray ammonia around your property
  • Install motion-activated lights
  • Call animal control to remove them

What Are Coyotes Afraid Of?

Coyotes are mainly afraid of loud noises and bright lights. Coyotes hunt mainly during the night when it is dark and quiet, so it is not surprising that loud noises and bright lights will startle them.

A great way to deter coyotes from entering your property is to install motion-activated lights. When the coyotes come within the sensory range, the lights will shine brightly on them, causing them to retreat.

If you do not have any prevention methods yet and a coyote is on your property, you can scare them away with loud noises. For example, use a blow horn or smash together pots and pans. 

If you encounter a coyote in your backyard and don’t have anything on you, you can scare away the coyote by throwing rocks or sticks at it.

If you don’t want to injure the coyote, you can throw the rocks or sticks at surrounding trees to create loud noises.

You might also enjoy our post on If You Can Shoot Squirrels in Your Backyard

What Scent Keeps Coyotes Away? 

Coyotes are known to detest the smell of cayenne pepper, vinegar, and ammonia. You can apply these scents to rags and leave them outside or create a deterrent spray using those ingredients. 

The easiest way to keep coyotes away is to soak rags in vinegar and then leave the rags around your property or in areas where the coyotes are often visiting.

You should replace these rags once a week or after it rains or snows. 

Will Ammonia Keep Coyotes Away?

Ammonia is known to keep coyotes away from your yard. You can soak rags with ammonia and position the rags around your property. You can also place the rags in garbage cans to mask the smell of food. 

Another beneficial option is to hang the soaked rags from tree branches and fence posts. We recommend purchasing this ammonia from Amazon to supply you with enough ammonia to use around your yard.

Are Coyotes Scared of Fire?

Coyotes are known to be scared of fire. However, it can be dangerous to leave a bonfire burning without anyone attending it. So, it is wise only to deter coyotes with fire if you can observe the fire at all times.

Although it is not easy to constantly supervise a fire, it is comforting to know that you will be protected from coyotes if you have a bonfire.

Just ensure that you store all of your food away once the bonfire is over, so the coyote isn’t attracted to anything. 

Will Lights Keep Coyotes Away?

It is well known that coyotes are afraid of lights. Coyotes mainly hunt at night, so it is no surprise that lights will startle them and cause them to run away. 

If you are experiencing coyotes in your yard, you can install motion-activated lights. Then, when a coyote approaches your property, the lights will be activated and, hopefully, scare the coyotes away.

If you are approached by a coyote in your backyard at night and happen to have a flashlight on you, you can shine the flashlight directly at the coyote.

The coyote will likely be afraid of the light and runoff. 

Do Wind Chimes Keep Coyotes Away?

Wind chimes may not be your best option to keep coyotes away from your property. Since wind chimes emit a constant, soft sound, the coyote may get used to it and disregard it.

It is better to use something that emits a quick and loud noise, such as a blow horn. You can also smash together pots and pans.

But, any device that produces a constant sound will likely not work with coyotes because they will adapt to the noise.

You might also enjoy our post on If It Is Illegal to Shoot Birds in Your Backyard

Coyotes and Your Dogs

Coyotes are well known to attack dogs, especially tiny ones. This is why coyotes become a great concern to homeowners when their dogs’ lives are at risk. So let’s discuss some ways to protect your dogs from coyotes. 

Can I Shoot a Coyote if It Attacks My Dogs?

Most states allow you to shoot a coyote if it is attacking your dog. The general rule states that anyone can shoot a coyote if it injures a human, pet property, or livestock.

While no one can predict when a coyote will attack, it is vital to prevent your dogs from being attacked in the first place. 

If coyotes are known to be present in your area, it is wise to keep your dogs inside at all times unless under supervision or on a leash. Coyotes are known primarily to attack small dogs, typically under 25 pounds. 

What to Do if Your Dogs Get Into a Fight With a Coyote?

It is challenging to break up a dog fight once it has started. Your best option is to make as much loud noise as possible to scare off the coyote potentially. Additionally, you should refrain from putting yourself in the middle of the fight as you may risk your safety.

However, we understand that this is easier said than done. Your dog is your best friend and part of your family, so you will do anything to save it.

If your dog was injured during the fight, you should take your dog to a veterinary clinic as soon as possible to prevent any injuries from getting worse or causing severe harm to your dog.

How Do I Protect My Dog From Coyotes?

The best way to protect your dog from coyotes is to keep your dog on a leash at all times when it is outside. Do not leave your dog unattended, especially in areas where you know there are coyotes.

If your dog is used to spending time outside alone, you can install a large playpen to keep your dog protected. You can also install a large boundary fence around your property to keep out any potential coyotes.

Can Dogs Sense Coyotes?

Dogs can sense coyotes even if they have never met one before. Your dog may start to sniff around frantically and appear anxious. It is also possible that your dogs hear the coyotes even when you can’t hear them.

Dogs have a unique sixth sense when it comes to many things. For example, they can sense our moods or know when a rabbit is 20 feet away. 

They are also able to tell when a coyote is nearby. They may pick up the smell of the coyote and hear its quiet whimpering and howling since coyotes are well known to be very vocal.

If you sense that your dog notices a coyote is around, you should head home as soon as possible.

You might also enjoy our post on Is It Illegal to Kill Woodpeckers? 

Do Barking Dogs Scare Coyotes?

The dog’s bark may not be what scares away the coyote but, instead, the coyote associates the barking dog with a human. Therefore, the coyote will be afraid of the dog if it knows a human is around.

This is why it is sometimes beneficial to have a guard dog to protect you from coyotes. The dog’s bark will initially pique the coyote’s interest, but upon further investigation, the coyote will notice that there are humans around. 

As a result, the coyote will begin to associate that guard dog with humans and avoid the area.

Does Dog Poop Attract Coyotes?

Dog poop has been known to attract coyotes. Coyotes are attracted to anything that is a food source, specifically small dogs. Therefore, if a coyote smells dog poop, they will know a dog is in that area and begin hunting. 

If you have been experiencing coyotes on your property, you may want to check your yard for any dog poop coming from your dog or a dog in your area.

Maintaining a clean yard free of dog poop will prevent coyotes from being attracted to your yard.

Related Questions

How Many Coyotes Are Killed Each Year?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, over 500,000 coyotes are killed each year. Most coyotes are killed for a sport since many states allow for year-round hunting of coyotes.

Most states do not consider coyotes as game, and therefore, hunters do not need special licenses or tags to hunt coyotes. This makes coyotes a very easy animal to hunt.

Also, there are plenty of coyotes throughout the United States, allowing for ample hunting opportunities.

What State Has the Highest Coyote Population?

There is a large population of coyotes in Nevada, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming. Most of these states allow for coyotes to be hunted year-round.

Coyotes inhabit these states because of their large areas of open land and forests. Additionally, the vast amount of wildlife in these states allows for plenty of food options for coyotes to sustain themselves and their families.

Can I Shoot a Coyote in My Yard in Connecticut?

You are allowed to shoot a coyote in your yard in an area that is safe to do so and if the coyote is causing problems. You can also hunt coyotes on private property from December 1 to January 31. 

If you do not hold a valid hunting license, you can shoot a coyote only if you live in a rural area and the coyote is causing you problems.

The coyote would have to be injuring or threatening to injure pets, humans, livestock, and property.

Can I Shoot a Coyote in My Yard in California?

California is a state that allows anyone to kill a coyote, any time of the year, as long as the coyote is acting as a nuisance. This means that the coyote is injuring humans, pets, livestock, or property. 

However, you still have to follow local firearm laws. For example, if you live in a city, you cannot shoot a gun. But, if you live outside of city limits, you are. 

California has a widespread coyote problem and aims to eliminate coyotes as much as possible. This is why you can shoot a coyote, even if you do not have a hunting license. 

It is only illegal to kill a coyote in California if you poison it or capture it with a leg-hold trap. 

Final Thoughts

Since coyotes have been well known as problem creatures, wreaking havoc to homeowners, appropriate laws have been implemented across the United States.

These laws are implemented to protect homeowners and their families from predatory coyotes.

However, although it is nice to be able to shoot a coyote legally if it is causing you problems, it is essential to prevent coyotes from entering your property at all.

This will save a coyote’s life and possibly the life of a family member. 

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