Sunday, September 19, 2021
Sunday, September 19, 2021

Why coyotes pose a threat to your pet in campgrounds

By Chuck Woodbury
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.



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Leslie Berg
1 year ago

Our West Coast coyotes are pretty small so they don’t endanger larger dogs, but small dogs and cats can be preyed upon. Eastern coyotes now often have 10% dog and 10% wolf hybridization and this can change behavior and size. Recently, there was an unprecedented adult human fatality by coyote predation in Canada (Taylor Mitchell, 2009, Halifax, Nova Scotia).

1 year ago

When a local cat or dog go missing I always ask people if they’ve spoken to the local Wile E. Coyote. We get them through our neighborhood almost daily, along with deer, raccoon, skunks, opossum, cougar (4 legged variety, not 2 legged) and very rarely an occassional bear.

Robert Slimak
1 year ago

No matter what the coyote belongs there and your pets dont. So don’t think coyotes should be shot or poisoned to keep your pets safe to run loose. Frankly, when I see dogs off leash or a roaming cat I hope a coyote gets them. Keep your pets to yourself. I go camping to see the wildife, which includes the coyotes, not your pets.

Dave Friedl
1 year ago

Remember… the coyotes were there first and we infringe on their territory. They do not ‘intentionally hunt” our pets… they see it as an easy opportunity for a meal… Keep your pets safe and close.

1 year ago

Coyotes not just in the wild. They are getting pets in the populated area of St Pete, Fla.

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