Wednesday, September 27, 2023


Why coyotes pose a threat to your pet in campgrounds

National parks require pets to be leashed to protect the local wildlife. But where coyotes roam it’s the pets that need protection. As in many expanding suburbs, coyotes in national parks have become so accustomed to people that they often forage in plain view.

Cats and small dogs are easy prey for the quick, powerful predators when left tethered to an RV in a campground. One ranger at Death Valley National Park almost lost his cat when a coyote grabbed it outside his residence. He chased the animal, which dropped the cat and ran off before inflicting serious injury.

A pet is in danger even when you walk it on a leash. The same ranger tells of a man who was walking his poodle near Death Valley’s Furnace Creek campground when a coyote suddenly charged from the brush, yanked the leash from the man’s hand and took off with the poodle. No trace was found of the dog or leash.

Even if you are able to get to your pet early during an attack, it might still be too late. Coyotes often shake their prey violently to kill it. The shaking can be enough to cause fatal internal damage. THEMSELVES ARE PARTLY TO BLAME for pets being vulnerable around campgrounds. By feeding wildlife near campgrounds and leaving garbage unsealed, people inadvertently encourage highly adaptable animals like coyotes to associate humans with food. Visitors driving in the north end of Death Valley near Scotty’s Castle and the Mesquite Spring Campground often spot a coyote in plain view by the roadside, waiting patiently for the next handout. I have met RVers who carry dog food to feed to such “friendly” animals. This is bad for the welfare of people, pets and the coyotes themselves.

So in national parks – or anywhere coyotes may be present – never leave a small pet unattended. Keep the leash short when walking by potential hideouts, and don’t create pests of wild animals by feeding them.

Do you have any harrowing wildlife versus pet encounters to tell us about? Please leave a comment below.


Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.


  1. I tried the snowbird experience in AZ one year for a couple of weeks. One of the issues that made me decide that AZ was NOT for me is that I could not walk my Scottish Terrier on leash, by himself, without the coyotes following us! IN the RV park! Fortunately, these were smart coyotes and, when we had my Rottie – 25.5″ and 127 pounds! – walk with us, they made themselves scarce! We also had a bald eagle follow us when walking in Western WA, flying from tree to tree. My Scottie spent that whole walk between me and my Rottie!

  2. I live in an urban coyote zone, along a high bank creek. I have had kittens, lambs and chickens taken by coyotes. They are stealth and quick. Not afraid of humans. Although I no longer have farm animals, my medium sized dog came in one night covered in blood requiring an emergent trip to a vet. My pet required minor surgery, and eventually was himself again. My current pet does not go on walks without a leash. I also use a coyote vest when traveling to where coyotes are known to snatch pets. The vest makes her look like a gothic princess 😂

  3. Not always campgrounds. In New Mexico, cats and small dogs are always being taken by coyotes from yards, (also owls and large hawks)

  4. With response to domestic animals being attacked. . . The thought came to mind that it would be great temporary protection to place a pet in an appropriate sized animal cage, lock cage, and padlock the chain attached to RV. At least two layers of protection here. Cage entry opening is locked, chain attached to cage is padlocked to RV.
    Side note: I might even attach a small half inch grid fencing inside the cage to prevent a raccoon, for example, to slide it’s hands inside to scare or injure a pet.

  5. Cats eat birds, coyotes eat cats, small dogs, rabbits and mice ect.
    Cougars, wolves, grizzly bears and black bears are known to kill coyotes, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Golden eagles have been known to swoop down and take young coyotes. Humans kill coyotes too, for their fur and in attempts to control their populations.
    So goes the circle of life.

  6. We have urban coyotes where I live. There are always “lost cat” flyers posted around our area. Sorry, but that cat is not lost, it was someone’s dinner.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.