Shooting Coyotes on Private Property: A Comprehensive Guide

Coyotes are a common sight in North America, and their populations have grown substantially over the last few decades. Coyotes are adaptable and can thrive in a variety of environments, including rural and suburban areas. However, their presence can sometimes pose a threat to humans and their pets, as well as livestock, leading to concerns about their management. This guide aims to provide information on shooting coyotes on private property, including legal, ethical, and safety considerations.

Overview of the Coyote Population In North America

Coyotes are found throughout North America, from Alaska to Central America. They are members of the canine family, weighing between 20 to 50 pounds and standing 2 feet tall at the shoulder. Coyotes have a varied diet that includes small mammals, birds, and fruit. They are opportunistic hunters and will take advantage of whatever prey is available.

B. Common reasons for wanting to shoot coyotes on private property

Coyotes can pose a threat to property and livestock, which can lead landowners to seek to manage their populations. Coyotes can prey on livestock, such as sheep, goats, and poultry, leading to economic losses for farmers and ranchers. Additionally, coyotes can sometimes attack domestic pets, such as cats and dogs, which can be distressing for their owners.

C. Importance of understanding local laws and regulations

It is essential to understand local laws and regulations before shooting coyotes on private property. Violating these laws can result in legal penalties and fines. It is also important to ensure that any actions taken to manage coyotes do not harm the ecosystem and other wildlife species.

Legal Aspects of Shooting Coyotes On Private Property

There are federal and state laws and regulations that landowners should be aware of when considering shooting coyotes on their property.

A. Federal laws and regulations

  1. Endangered Species Act: The Endangered Species Act (ESA) prohibits the hunting, trapping, or killing of any animal listed as endangered or threatened. Coyotes are not listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA, and therefore, can be legally hunted in most areas.
  2. Migratory Bird Treaty Act: The Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) makes it illegal to take or kill any migratory bird species without a permit. This includes coyotes because they are considered migratory birds. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has issued a policy that allows for the killing of coyotes to protect livestock and property without a permit.

B. State and local laws and regulations

  1. Hunting permits and licenses: Most states require a hunting permit or license to hunt coyotes. These permits and licenses may have specific regulations, such as bag limits and hunting seasons.
  2. Firearms restrictions: Many states have restrictions on the type of firearms and ammunition that can be used to hunt coyotes. It is essential to check state and local laws regarding firearms and ammunition.
  3. Discharge of firearms on private property: Some states and localities have regulations regarding the discharge of firearms on private property. It is essential to understand these regulations before shooting coyotes.

C. Consultation with local wildlife agencies

It is highly recommended to consult with local wildlife agencies before shooting coyotes on private property. They can provide information on the current state of coyote populations, regulations, and best management practices.

Ethical Considerations

While shooting coyotes on private property may be legal in some instances, there are ethical considerations to take into account.

A. The role of coyotes in the ecosystem

Coyotes play an important role in the ecosystem, as they help control the populations of rodents and other small mammals. Coyotes can also help prevent the spread of disease by preying on sick or weak animals. Removing coyotes from an ecosystem can have unintended consequences, such as an increase in the population of other predators or prey species.

B. Non-lethal alternatives for managing coyotes

There are non-lethal alternatives for managing coyotes on private property that can be effective and ethical.

  1. Fencing and deterrents: Installing sturdy fencing around livestock areas can prevent coyotes from accessing them. Additionally, there are various deterrents that can be used to scare off coyotes, such as bright lights, loud noises, and motion-activated sprinklers.
  2. Livestock protection measures: There are various ways to protect livestock from coyote predation, such as keeping them in barns at night or using guard animals, such as dogs or llamas.
  3. Scare tactics: Coyotes can be deterred from an area by using scare tactics, such as hanging shiny objects or reflective tape or using a predator scent.

C. The ethics of killing wildlife on private property

It is important to consider the ethics of killing wildlife on private property. Coyotes are living beings that deserve respect and humane treatment. If lethal management is deemed necessary, it should be done in the most humane way possible, with quick and clean kills.

Safety Considerations

Safety is a critical consideration when shooting coyotes on private property.

A. Safe use of firearms

  1. Proper firearm handling: Before shooting coyotes, it is important to ensure that the shooter is proficient in using the firearm and that it is in good working order.
  2. Knowledge of backstops and shooting angles: The shooter must be aware of what is beyond the intended target and ensure that there is a safe backstop for the bullet. It is also important to be aware of shooting angles to prevent unintended injuries.

B. Identifying the target and ensuring a humane kill

It is crucial to identify the target correctly to avoid accidental shootings of non-target species. Additionally, it is important to ensure a humane kill by using appropriate ammunition and aiming for vital organs.

C. Ensuring the safety of family, neighbors, and pets

It is essential to ensure the safety of family, neighbors, and pets when shooting coyotes on private property. The shooter should be aware of their surroundings and ensure that no one is in the line of fire.

Coyote Hunting Techniques

There are various hunting techniques for coyotes on private property.

A. Best time and season for hunting coyotes

Coyotes can be hunted year-round in many states, but the best time to hunt them is during their breeding season, which is typically in late winter or early spring.

B. Appropriate firearms and ammunition

The type of firearm and ammunition used to hunt coyotes depends on personal preference, but it is important to ensure that they are legal and humane.

C. Using calls and decoys to lure coyotes

Coyotes can be lured in using various calls and decoys, such as rabbit distress calls or decoys that mimic injured prey.

D. Hunting with or without dogs

Hunting coyotes with dogs can be effective, but it is important to ensure that the dogs are well-trained and do not harm non-target species.

Dealing With the Aftermath

After shooting coyotes on private property, it is important to take proper measures to dispose of carcasses and report the killing if required.

A. Proper disposal of carcasses

Coyote carcasses should be disposed of properly to avoid attracting other predators or scavengers. Carcasses can be buried or taken to a landfill.

B. Reporting requirements for killing coyotes

Some states require the reporting of coyote killings, while others do not. It is important to check state and local laws regarding reporting requirements.

C. Potential public relations considerations

Killing coyotes on private property can have public relations implications. It is important to be mindful of how the killing may be perceived by the public and to communicate effectively with neighbors and the community.


Shooting coyotes on private property can be a necessary action for protecting property and livestock, but it should be done with care and consideration. It is essential to understand and adhere to local laws and regulations, consider ethical and non-lethal alternatives, prioritize safety, and dispose of carcasses properly. Balancing the need to protect property and livestock with ethical and legal responsibilities is crucial.


  • Nathan Collins

    Having spent years working in the landscaping industry, Nathan Collins has cultivated a wealth of knowledge about the natural world. He is committed to helping others appreciate the beauty in their backyards, whether it's through identifying rare rocks and minerals or crafting the perfect landscape.

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