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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Coyote Attacks on Humans, 1970-2015

  • Author(s): Baker, Rex O.
  • Timm, Robert M.
  • et al.

Beginning with the developing pattern of urban and suburban coyotes attacking humans in southern California in the late 1970s, we have gathered information on such incidents in an effort to better understand the causes of such changes in coyote behavior, as well as to develop strategies that can reduce the incidence of such attacks. Here, we update information from our knowledge of conflicts between humans and coyotes occurring largely in urban and suburban environments in the United States and Canada during the past 30 years. This problem emerged in states beyond California and in Canadian provinces in the 1990s, and it appears to be growing. We have documented 367 attacks on humans by coyotes from 1977 through 2015, of which 165 occurred in California. Of 348 total victims of coyote attack, 209 (60%) were adults, and 139 (40%) were children (age ≤10 years). Children (especially toddlers) are at greater risk of serious injury. Attacks demonstrate a seasonal pattern, with more occurring during the coyote breeding and pup-rearing season (March through August) than September through February. We reiterate management recommendations that, when enacted, have been demonstrated to effectively reduce risk of coyote attack in urban and suburban environments, and we note limitations of non-injurious hazing programs. We note an apparent growing incidence of coyote attack on pets, an issue that we believe will drive coyote management policy at the local and state levels.

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