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There's a delightful thrill to the call of a band of coyotes when you're alone in the dark woods. Do they present a danger? That is, have healthy coyotes (that is, not rabid) been known to attack or show aggressiveness to a lone human?

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Why would you go to the woods without a small axe or a sturdy staff? –  Vorac Sep 17 '13 at 8:29
@Vorac When backpacking, I wouldn't have either, because of weight. –  Don Branson Sep 17 '13 at 11:36

3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted

In general they are not considered dangerous because they rarely attack humans. You should not run away from coyotes as they will consider you a prey if you do. Under extreme circumstances they may circle an individual or a group. Making noise generally keeps them at bay or at a distance.

In 2009, there was, unfortunately, a fatality in Cape-Breton Nova-Scotia. This was the second recorded fatality in North America.

From Nova-Scotia website:

Coyotes are wild and generally avoid people. However, they should be treated as potentially dangerous. Do not approach a coyote.

also according to Nova-Scotia website:

The attack in Cape Breton is the first case of this nature in Nova Scotia. There was a fatal case reported in the United States (California) in 1981 (Timm, Baker, Bennett and Coolahan 2004).

Coyotes in Eastern Canada are known to be bigger and are sometimes called coyote wolves (locally) in opposition to their smaller counterparts.

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Good point about running away! Running away from any predator is a prey behavior. It's true even in case of a domesticated dogs! –  Unsung Sep 16 '13 at 16:16

Coyotes now live in our area in significant numbers. There was a den on our property this winter, and a few months ago there were four pups romping around in our back yard. We hear them howling pretty much every night.

I've been in the woods and in open fields with coyotes around and never felt threatened or considered it a problem at all. In fact, I think they are cool to watch, particularly the pups. Coyotes are very aware of their surroundings, and they will not let you get closer than about 50 feet. In all cases when I was closer, the coyote ran off when it saw me.

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I've never had a problem with them, either. It's fun calling to evoke a response. Nevertheless, looking to see if anyone's experience a threat from them. –  Don Branson Sep 16 '13 at 14:38
Whoever downvoted this, it is useful to explain what exactly you think is incorrect, misleading, badly worded, etc. Silent downvotes do a disservice to this site. –  Olin Lathrop Sep 25 '13 at 14:59
Agreed. It's just common courtesy. –  Don Branson Sep 25 '13 at 15:47
@OlinLanthrop: Sir, What I have seen and learnt is: most of the animals when having its pups around gets a little aggressive, including Dogs, Cats and so other and even birds. I wonder why not Coyotes? –  WedaPashi Sep 26 '13 at 5:08
@Weda: I expect coyotes would get aggressive if cornered, especially when there are pups around. However, in all the situations I have been with coyotes, there has always been plenty of space for them to escape to. There is no upside for them if they can simply run away instead of fighting and taking a chance on getting hurt. Even what we consider relatively small injuries can be a death sentence for a wild animal that has to be able to take down prey and avoid being someone else's prey at moment's notice. –  Olin Lathrop Sep 26 '13 at 12:16

A few points to add here:

Coyotes are not know to be aggressive towards humans. But always remember that coyote is a wild animal. It is not domesticated and hence it's very difficult say with certainty about the behavior.

Coyotes are know to attack dogs, sheep and other livestock. So yes, they can bite. If not you, your dog maybe?

Any animal, when it loses the fear of humans, can act aggressively. This is aggravated by humans feeding the wild animals. One quick example would be the feeding of monkeys that is done in many south asian countries and in south africa. Coyotes are similar w.r.t the fact that they almost coexist with humans in urban areas now-a-days.

Hence, my advice would be, know where the boundaries are and stay well within them. It helps not only you(and possibly your dog) but also the wild life out there. And calling out to evoke a response? Well, I wouldn't really do that :P

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So, I only call when I'm near a vehicle and can get in if they approach. :) And yes, they're wild animals, definitely don't try to approach them. People do, to, so it's worth saying. –  Don Branson Sep 16 '13 at 19:15
Years ago I saw a "wild" coyote that people had fed around the Grand Canyon area. I'm sure they eventually had to kill it because people had fed it. –  Don Branson Sep 16 '13 at 19:16
@DonBranson Well that's my point, it harms the wildlife as well. It's not just about us all the time you see. –  Unsung Sep 17 '13 at 4:31
Coyotes have been known to be aggressive to humans in multiple instances. They may also attack children or vulnerable adults as they are opportunist hunters. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coyote_attacks_on_humans –  ppl Sep 18 '13 at 1:56

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