what NOT to do when faced with a coyote

what NOT to do when faced with a coyote

Original Publication Date: September 9, 2019

As we enter coyote dispersal season, I feel that it is important to address behavior and videos like this. In doing research for current literary works in progress, I came across this video which is a blaring image of what NOT to do when faced with a coyote or ANY animal.

I’ve gone through the trouble of transcribing a description of the entire four minute and fifty-four second video to highlight every action which either 

  • Sent mixed signals to coyote (on its own or in sequence)
  • Put the man in harm’s way
  • Were generally categorized as irresponsible/unsafe behavior when interacting with wildlife for some reason. 

Video Description: 00:00 Very beginning of video, man is following coyote, which is turned away, trying to leave. / 0:06 Coyote is walking away, man kisses & clicks at him to call it back. / 0:14 The animal is hesitating, trying to watch the man and also create and maintain distance. Man is still trying to call him in, saying “Hey pup.” / 0:15 coyote trots away. /

The News-Press

0:16 Man pursues immediately, at quick pace (chasing,) causing coyote to speed up to nearly a run. / 0:20 Coyote turns around and runs towards man (defensive behavior now after multiple provocations). / 0:21 The animal is running toward man, man running backwards in opposite direction. / 0:24 Coyote stops itself directly in front of man, running back and forth in defensive display.

Man stands his ground. / 0:30 Coyote continues back and forth defensive display, man says “Hey, careful. Get!” Coyote continues back and forth display. Hesitating between escape and defense, gets slightly closer with every other advance. / 0:38 Man says “I have no food on me either, he’s just comin’ up on me.” 

Coyote continues display. / 0:47 Man seemingly crouches down to the ground. / Exchange continues. He is in slightly aggressive posture: ears up slightly pointed sideways and forward (moving back, forth and even down periodically, in sync with vocalizations from man), tail erect, hackles up. No baring of teeth. /

Man appears to stand up at 01:32 / Throughout the exchange man says “You’re trying to eat me, eh?” “I have no food on my hands at all, I don’t know if he’s playing with me or what.” “I see you lickin’ your lips.” /  02:08 Coyote runs a circle around man. / 02:14 Man holds foot out to him at 02:14, at which point he begins to target foot in advances, at this point trying to nip. Man continues to hold foot there, no movement or attempts to deter the coyote from nipping. /

02:26 Coyote begins to trot quickly away. / 02:27 Man begins to run backwards immediately, engaging him in another chase. / 02:33 Man crouches down again, allowing the coyote to advance 3-4 times before vocalizing “Hey!” at it again. Notes again “Look at you lickin’ your lips.” / 02:46 Man holds hand out toward coyote and says “C’m’ere [Come here].” / 02:48 Man attempts to touch coyote (quick swipe at the chin) as it advances. /

02:52 Man continues to hold hand out to coyote while saying “Hey, don’t bite.” “Look it, you’re hungry, eh, I ain’t feedin’ you.” / 02:57 He backs away and stands still, watching man. Displaying insecure-unsure behavior portrayed by stance, tail and ear movements. /

03:00 Man attempts to call the animal back in with kissing noise and holding out hand and saying “Come here.” (Still crouched down). Coyote is very hesitant to approach. / 03:10 He approaches. / 03:12 Man begins vocalizing at coyote again “Hey!” /

03:26 Man now completely sitting on the ground, extending foot out again to coyote. The animal immediately begins defensive advances again, nipping at man’s foot. Man allows him to bite foot repeatedly (23 times). Man vocalizes “Hey!” at coyote a few times throughout exchange, notably silent on multiple attempts by the animal to pull man’s boot. /

04:11 Man stands up. “I’ve had enough of you, I’m gonna scare you so you don’t come near [anyone].” / 04:13 Man chases coyote. / 04:21 Coyote realizes man is no longer chasing, returns to man. / 04:28 Man begins walking backwards. / 04:32 Man turns around and continues walking, back now toward coyote. /

04:43 Man turns around to check if he is still there, coyote is walking along with him. / 04:47 Man scares him one more time with no vocalization (quick movement of the body), the animal walks away. / 04:49 Coyote realizes man is no longer in pursuit, turns around and follows again. Video ends with coyote still walking toward man diagonally 04:54.

Let’s look back at some of the things that were said during this video: notably the “you’re hungry” and “lickin’ your lips” phrases. A study in 2016 revealed that people will, more often than not, be either unable or unwilling to “make the connection” between their own behavior and the effects it has on the animals they complain about or somehow find themselves interacting with, whether intentionally or unintentionally (Elliot et al., 2016). 

In this video, we can see that this man is giving a tremendous amount of mixed signals to this animal in a very short period of time. He calls the animal in, at times seeming to offer food by holding out his hand, then immediately scares it away with a loud “Hey!” and proceeds to pursue it or call it in again.

Toward the end of the video it absolutely must be noted again that the man allowed the coyote to bite his boot 23 times, a majority of the time saying nothing as it even pulled on his boot some moments. Very few times and noticeably inconsistently, he makes a lighthearted attempt at deterring this behavior by throwing in a half-hearted “Hey!” every now and then. 

This entire video is a perfect illustration of the exact opposite of what you should do when faced with a coyote, or any wild animal, especially a predator species​. 

This time of year, pups are getting a bit older, and will begin dispersing, or, traveling away from their family groups. Studies have shown that these dispersing individuals are more prone to conflict behavior, as they are a bit bolder in behavior. In order to safely engage a coyote (for your good and that of the animal), do not do any of the behaviors shown in this video.

Provoking an animal into an encounter does not constitute an attack. We can coexist, if only we are willing to recognize the effect our behaviors have on the wildlife we share this earth with. 

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