Saturday, December 9, 2023


Appreciate – but don’t mess with – the desert coyote

By Russ and Tiña De Maris
He must be one of Warner Brothers’ favorites: Wile E. Coyote, facing off in those “can’t win” situations with the Roadrunner. No, that poor desert coyote just couldn’t ever seem to get it straight. Sadly, many people – including some well-meaning RVers – can’t seem to get it straight about coyotes either.

If you RV just about anywhere in the U.S., you may have occasion to run into the humble coyote. Come winter, many of the contacts are in the Desert Southwest, where the relatively warm winters bring thousands of RVers out onto the desert and into prime coyote country.

“Are the coyotes dangerous?” “Will they eat my dog?” “Should I carry a gun?” These are frequent questions of newcomers to coyote country. Some, sitting by the firelight, will head for the rig as soon as a coyote “tunes up” anywhere nearby. For those familiar with Canis latrans, the howl of the ‘yote is pure music to the ear.

What do desert coyotes eat?

The desert coyote is a fairly small critter compared to his mountain-dwelling cousin. Quartzsite coyotes run about the size of a mid-sized collie. What do they dine on? Typically the desert coyote is only interested in rabbits, mice, an occasional baby mountain sheep and plenty of ground squirrels. They’ll also eat bugs, fruits and vegetables. Don’t leave your dog, cat or other small companion out in harm’s way because the opportunistic coyote may take a bite. It’s always wise to keep a close eye on your pets – never chain them out, especially at night. On occasion, you may see coyotes near human habitation even by day.

Will a coyote harm you? Typically coyotes avoid contact with humans. An ill coyote, particularly a rabid one, might approach people. Thankfully, that’s a pretty rare occurrence. But if a coyote approaches you, it’s best to try and shoo him off with a shout and a waving of the hands. If that doesn’t work, then by all means take shelter in the RV, car or other available hideout and call local authorities.

Some well-meaning folks think it’s good sport to feed the coyotes. Please don’t! Coyotes are very well-equipped to provide for themselves, and associating food handouts with humans can put coyotes at a great disadvantage. They then can become a nuisance and line themselves up for destruction.

The song of the coyote

Coyotes have distinctive calls for varying purposes. As you sit by the campfire, see if you can sort out the signals. Howling is used for long-distance communication. For males, a howl tells another male coyote to stay out of the area. It can also be an invite for a little fun with the opposite sex. Yelping is often heard among groups of coyotes, who can form up clans. A yelp could be a bit of a celebratory note, or it could be a disagreement among the family getting itself sorted out. Among coyote pups, yelping is common among playmates. Barking, akin to dog barking, is usually associated with protective behavior, as when somebody’s getting too close to the den. Some RVers swear that coyotes also use barks to lure household dogs out on the desert to come to (and become) dinner.

Coyotes are just another wonder of the desert creation, and one that most RVers appreciate as part of our special lifestyle.

Why coyotes pose a threat to your pet in campgrounds
How to Avoid Conflicts With Coyotes – from Urban Coyote Research Project (excellent info)


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



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Robb Niebeling (@guest_112024)
2 years ago

Great article. I always look forward to reading everything y’all write. Thanks

Jesse W Crouse (@guest_111999)
2 years ago

You can take the wild animal(any species you want) out of the wild but NOT THE WILD OUT OF THE ANIMAL! Mother Nature has provided a niche for them to fill. Don’t try to change that.

Gene Cheatham (@guest_111995)
2 years ago

Like all wildlife, we enjoy the coyotes in our area, right along with deer etc. Just like deer, they do need their population managed, aka hunted.

Short story – our big, not fat, 113 pound golden retriever was walking down the rock lane coming back to the house from the nearby woods right between 2 big coyotes. I called him in, hoping he wouldn’t break into his usual run. Thankfully, he and they parted ways at a walk. I was sure if he ran dinner would well have been served.

RV Staff
2 years ago
Reply to  Gene Cheatham

Very interesting story, Gene. I’m glad your dog returned safely. 🙂 —Diane at

dcook (@guest_111990)
2 years ago

I agree with you 100%,the coyote is natures music. I love to here them when I am out camping, sometimes you can even hear them over the all of the barking dogs at the campsites. Wish there were more of them.

Skip (@guest_111978)
2 years ago

Coyotes are varmints. We hunt them on the northeast to try in keep them in check. Hunting license required. It’s a year round culling. They are destructive to other wildlife, pets, farm animals. And if you don’t think so wait until you see a fawn being eatin alive then you’ll have a whole new prospective. These critter in the males can reach 80 pounds think your 40-50 pound pup can fend it off, not likely. Use to hunt them in New Mexico when stationed at Cannon and on and around Coolidge in Arizona. Not only you pets but keep your little ones close as well.

Last edited 2 years ago by Skip
Cheryl Bacon (@guest_111965)
2 years ago

We have coyotes, bobcats, wild pigs, Bald Eagles and venomous snakes in our “backyard”, so we don’t need to go “camping” to find them. The “song” of coyote? The sounds they make are far from anything enjoyable to hear. I have plenty of company feeling that way. The chorus you hear around here is, dogs howling and growling, people egging them on with their version of howls and gunfire.

Pamela (@guest_111963)
2 years ago

I follow Save A Fox rescue on You Tube. This is a wonderful rescue operation. Mikayla has mainly foxes rescued from fur farms or owner surrenders, and also a few other exotic animals. She does a lot of educational outreach to schools and groups. She has one coyote! Dakota Coyote, and I am in love with this critter! Here is a link to a video of Dakota:

Mike (@guest_111962)
2 years ago

Being in New Mexico, see them all the time, even in the daylight (even in the neighborhoods of Albuquerque). They can be rather annoying when we are out camping yippin and yowling around the campsite late at night. Shine a flashlight around and see thier glowing eyes.

Cheryl Bacon (@guest_111966)
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike

I totally agree. Why people get excited seeing and hearing them is beyond me. Their stink alone is enough to make you gag.

Fred (@guest_111957)
2 years ago

We’re in the desert north of Yuma, AZ at Senator Wash, & several rvers here have lost their cats over the last couple of months to coyotes. We hear them howling every night. sometimes within 50 yards of the rv. They typically howl just after sunset & just before sunrise. We rarely ever spot one during the day though.

wanderer (@guest_111950)
2 years ago

So I picked out a really great boondock site near Quartzsite. It was near the edge of a 10-foot dropoff with a great view.

I heard bursts of howling/yelping/crying,high pitched, multiple voices, about every 2 hours thru the night. It seemed like I had parked very close to a den built into that bank. Do momma coyotes do night-feedings for a bunch of pups?

PennyPA (@guest_111949)
2 years ago

I love the various sounds a coyote makes. We used to hear them in Pennsylvania but I haven’t heard any here in Texas yet. That could be because we live outside of Amarillo. Although I really don’t think there are any in Amarillo.

Donald N Wright (@guest_111934)
2 years ago

coyotes are smart, they visit the suburbs, live in creeks, and eat the dog food you left out overnight. also, they can run faster than the Road Runner !

Bob P (@guest_111933)
2 years ago

Only stupid city dwellers think they’re cute and want to feed them, they’re wild animals and are born with the ability to feed themselves, leave them alone!

Impavid (@guest_111945)
2 years ago
Reply to  Bob P

Perhaps, it would have been nicer to say, “Uninformed city dwellers…….”.

Joe (@guest_111951)
2 years ago
Reply to  Impavid

Stupid is the correct description

Ron T. (@guest_111960)
2 years ago
Reply to  Joe

Following up on that, putting your cat unattended outside the RV, leashed or otherwise is really just feeding the coyotes.

RV Staff
2 years ago
Reply to  Joe

The majority of our readers have more compassion for their fellow man/woman than others, thankfully. —Diane at

WEB (@guest_111981)
2 years ago
Reply to  RV Staff

That is correct and we are also here to teach the “Uninformed city dwellers…….” 😉

Cheryl Bacon (@guest_111971)
2 years ago
Reply to  Impavid

Cayotes are in the cities too. People are just plain brainless around wild animals.

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