A Guide to Identifying Coyote Faeces in Your Yard and Why It Matters
Coyotes are wild animals that are often found in rural areas, but they are becoming more common in urban and suburban areas too. You may see them in your neighborhood or even in your own backyard.
While they tend to be quite shy around humans, and more likely to flee than threaten, they are still wild animals that can pose a threat to people, livestock and pets. One way to know if they are in your area is by looking for their poop.
As coyote’s quite like to ‘display’ their poop, and are not shy about where they lay their deposit, it can be quite easy to see if they are visiting your property. Once you know what you are looking for that is!
This post aims to help you learn how to spot coyote poop in your garden and how to tell the difference between dog poop and coyote poop. As well as a few other coyote poop related questions along the way!
How To Tell If Coyotes Are Around?
The three main signs that coyotes are about are:
Sound – Unless you are a very sound sleeper, a nearby coyote or group of coyotes are likely to let you know they are there, particularly at night. Coyotes, like their canid cousin wolves, will often howl or whine for a variety of reasons.
This often happens at night as a signal to other coyotes that a territory is claimed or occupied. If you hear them howl, it is unlikely that they mean to pass through, but that they are claiming an area as their territory.
Tracks – It’s not always easy to tell apart a dog from a coyote by their tracks. The same problem doesn’t exist with wolves, as most wolves are larger than coyotes. As dogs can be of various sizes, the tracks can be of a similar size to that of a coyote. But the arrangement of the tracks can be a sign toward which animal made them.
Dogs tend to bound back and forth, weaving when walking around, or when they have the scent of something. Coyotes on the other hand tend to walk in direct lines with less deviation. A line of straight tracks, that are not next to human footprints (which would suggest a dog on a leash) would suggest they are from a coyote.
Poop – The third significant sign that a coyote is nearby, is finding their poop. Coyotes actually use their poop to communicate, and have no problem depositing it in the middle of a trail, or if visiting a yard, anywhere in the open that announces their presence. They produce stools of poop, or scat as it’s called, similar to skunk poop, dog and feline poop, as opposed to scat pellets like sheep, goat and deer poop.
What Does Coyote Poop Look Like
It’s not always easy to tell the difference between coyote and dog poop. Coyote poop typically resembles dog droppings and depending on the size of dog, the poop can be of similar size too. However, there are a few things that can help you recognise the difference, and that are significant in identifying coyote poop.
On average, female coyote droppings measure 3 to 5 inches long and 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter, but they vary greatly in size. Male coyotes tend to leave larger deposits, often between 6 to 12 inches long and a little thicker depending on size and diet. Often, coyote poop will be tapered at the ends when it is solid.
Depending on their diet, coyote poop can vary in both color and consistency. In winter, when they generally consume more meat, the scat is darker with more fur and bone fragments mixed in. Often times, eating fur will result in rope-like droppings. However, during summer months when they eat more fruits, foliage and vegetables ,the scat is much more crumbly and lighter in color.
What Color Is Coyote Scat?
Coyote poop is typically dark brown to black in color. However, as mentioned earlier, the color can vary depending on what the coyote has been eating. If they’ve been eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, their scat will be much lighter in color. If there is a lot of fur in their scat that will also change the color, making it look fibrous and aged.
You may also see some some white in the scat if the coyote has been eating bones or other hard objects. If you see coyote poop that is red or green, it could be a sign that the animal is sick. However, if the coyote has been eating a lot of berries, the scat may also be stained red or purple.
How To Spot Coyote Poop In Your Garden
Coyote poop is usually easy to spot in your garden. The faeces are often left in small piles or mounds, and can contain bones, feathers, or other small prey items.
Coyotes communicate with others of their kind, as well as intruders, by leaving scat in conspicuous places such as roads and trails. They tend to place them where they can easily be seen, and around the edges of what they consider to be their territory. If they have started pooping in your yard or homestead, then they may be claiming some of your land as their own.
Do All Canid Poops Look The Same
Yes to a degree, all canid poops are similar in shape and size. However, as dogs vary greatly in size their scat can have the vastest difference in size across their breeds. However, it is usually easier to tell dog scat apart from other canids, because it will generally have less animal fur and debris within the scat.
Of the remaining canids, foxes have the smallest scat and adult wolves leave larger deposits than coyotes, again due to their size. However, young wolves scat may be much harder to tell apart from coyote scat.
Telling The Difference Between Dog Poop And Coyote Poop
Dog scat may look a similar color, especially if they eat meaty foods. However, it is also softer due to the regular diet of soft dog food and availability of plenty water. Dog poop will be smoother, and less likely to contain knots and fibrous ‘ropes’.
Larger dogs may be more likely to leave large, soft deposits, but even small dogs lay much smoother logs than coyotes.
Coyote droppings on the other hand, are often full of fur and bones which dogs typically do not leave behind. Coyote poop is also often found in clusters, while dog poop is usually found in piles.
Dangers Of Coyote Poop In Your Yard
Coyotes pooping in your yard can signal a few dangers. The more pressing danger is that to your family and any pets or livestock you own. Coyotes living in close proximity to humans are more likely to become less ‘wary’ and more comfortable around humans. That confidence can make them more aggressive toward humans and likely to attack.
They are also likely to prey on pets like cats, rabbits or guinea pigs, or animals such as chickens, ducks or geese that you might own for produce. If they are claiming your yard as their own, then they are also laying claim to any pets or livestock you have.
On top of the physical risks to humans and other animals though, there are the risks of disease that coyote scat also presents. Coyotes can spread diseases like distemper and parvo through their faeces which can be very traumatic for any pets you own. They can also carry parasites such as fluke worms, tapeworms, and the horrible heartworms.
Removal And Prevention
Coyotes are notorious for their intelligence, so it’s no surprise that they can often outsmart attempts to trap or remove them. If you suspect that you have a coyote problem in your backyard, take preventive measures to keep them away.
When it comes to removing coyote poop, always wear protective gear and wash it thoroughly afterwards. You want to shovel the scat into a container that you can safely remove from your property, or into an area where you can have a fire and incinerate the scat stools to kill any parasites. Once incinerated shove the ashes off your property.
Make sure and clean the area of your yard where the coyote scat was found, water thoroughly to remove their scent too.
Allowing pets outside unsupervised may encourage the animals to stay near your property, so make sure your pets are kept safe indoors. You may also consider installing a substantial fence or other barrier to prevent coyotes from entering the area. Secure your trash cans and any source off food that may attract them back to your yard.
Don’t take unnecessary risks though, as encroaching on a coyote’s territory can make the animal aggressive and that can lead to a nasty injury. There are repellent spays you can invest in but the efficacy of these can vary widely.
If in doubt, there are professionals that are skilled at resolving any territorial concerns with Coyotes. This is one type of scat you don’t just want to ignore in your yard, because the consequences can mount up if left unchecked.