How to Tell if a Coyote Killed Your Chickens, Livestock, Pets

Coyotes: Identify the Kill

Have your pets or livestock or chickens been mysteriously disappearing? Are they showing up with inexplicable wounds? Are you finding signs that point to struggle? Or are you finding cryptic remains that leave you frustrated?

Closure is important to humans, especially with animals we’ve raised or with whom we’ve bonded emotionally. We don’t like to feel helpless against the unknown.

So… Are coyotes killing your chickens? Your pets? Your livestock? You’d probably like to know for sure so to give you closure and help you take any needed action to protect the rest of your animals so that it doesn’t happen again.

The information below will help you either identify or rule out a coyote attack.

Signs of a Coyote Attack

How do coyotes kill their prey? The most common kill style is a bite to the throat. Other signs you may be dealing with a coyote (assuming you actually find the body or remains) are wounds on the shoulders, flank, or hindquarters.

The truth is, you may not find much evidence with a coyote kill. A coyote uses a quick bite, shake, and release kill method which rattles the internal organs and forces the animal to collapse (even if the neck hasn’t been broken). Coyotes then tend to carry their kill to a safe place before consuming it. Evidence has been found as far as a mile away from a suspected coyote kill site.

Coyotes also leave little evidence because they tend to eat as much as they can fit in their mouths. They’ve even been known to consume pet collars in their feasting fury.

Telling Tracks

Since it’s tricky to prove a coyote attack based on injuries alone, take a close look around the area for tracks of any kind. You may need to wander father than you think since a coyote will travel to safety before its meal. Coyote tracks are more slender and oval than domestic dog prints. They’ll also include claw marks.

Scour for Scat

Coyotes have been known to mark their territory by defecating, so you may be lucky enough to find signs of scat. Unlike doggie doo, coyote scat usually contains obvious bulky matter and animal hair, which is exactly what you might guess: the undigested remains of animals the coyote has consumed.

Consider the Scene

Are you located rurally? Or in a more densely-populated area? Coyotes used to be limited to rural areas. But as development continues and humans take away more and more natural coyote habitat, coyotes have begun to venture into cities and towns to find food.

Coyotes are known to be highly adaptable to both urban and suburban areas. While they’re generally assumed to kill to eat, it’s possible that they may adapt to their surroundings and begin killing for fun when food is easily available. It’s also possible that they could kill with the intention to eat, but be startled or distracted by the noises of a more developed area.

If they haven’t been distracted, they may carry their kill to a safer space if they’re near human habitation. In that case, because tracks won’t be evident in a more populated area, you’re less likely to find any remains of your animal.

Consider the Victim

Was it a chicken? Dog? Cat? Sheep?

Domestic dogs aren’t known for going after sheep or calves, so in this case a coyote is the more likely killer. Coyotes also tend to stash larger kills to return to later, so you may want to search for a good stashing place for more potential evidence.

Talk to the Pros

Is your predator a coyote? Do you know which animal you’re dealing with?

Whether you’re certain or still confused, you can always call us at Nite Guard. We can help you identify your predator, and we’ve got the resources to help you keep coyotes — and other predators — away. Just give us a call at 1-800-328-6647 or send us an email, and we’ll help you find the best solution.

Categories: Coyote