How Smart Are Coyotes?


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Coyotes have been known throughout the ages as being cunning, devious, dangerous, and in some cases, such as with mythology, a trickster. We’re going to take a closer look at coyotes, how smart they are, and what set’s them apart from other wild animals.

Are Coyotes Smart Animals?

Coyotes are known for being smart and cunning. They can sneak up on their prey, kill quickly, and leave without being noticed. They adapt well and can thrive in many environments. Coyotes are hunted by ranchers because they prey on livestock. Many times coyotes have outsmarted humans, by getting through fences, wire, and other obstacles put in place to keep them out.

While coyotes have always been considered smart, they have also been considered a pest. Despite them being hunted, killed, and culled, they still keep their population numbers up.

In fact, even with these methods to try to control their population, their numbers are still on the rise. There are over 2 million coyotes in North America. Source.

Now that you know a little bit about how coyotes have adapted and how their populations continue to grow, let’s look at how they use their intelligence to thrive.

How smart are coyotes? – Video.

Do Coyotes Have Good Memories?

Yes, coyotes have excellent memories. Just like other canines, coyotes possess the ability to remember where food sources are located. They appear to be scavengers, mostly because they will eat just about anything, however, they are very smart at finding a place with a food source, and hunting that source and location for as long as they can.

They are also smart enough to problem solve. When people do things to deter them, such as put up fencing, wire, and other methods, coyotes still find ways to get inside. They will remember how to get in and continue to cause harm and damage. Anyone who has ever had to protect their animals from coyotes knows how difficult it can be.

Coyote Adaptations

Coyotes are resilient and have been able to adapt and overcome many situations throughout their existence. Over time, coyotes have moved from their wilderness hunting grounds to areas with human development. They are opportunistic, and urban environments provide them with food sources that are sometimes easier to obtain than if they had to hunt them in the wild.

Even though coyotes usually stay on the outskirts of cities and towns, they can still wander in to hunt rodents, steal food from trash bins, and even eat vegetation from people’s yards and gardens.

Farmers and ranchers also have to deal with predation from coyotes. Many ranchers will defend their livestock and property by fortifying their land with fences and wire and also by hunting and killing coyotes, whenever they see them.

Even still, coyotes adapt and learn from their experiences. This shows that they possess a great level of intelligence. When a wild animal can outsmart a human, sometimes multiple times, then that has to count for something.

Why Are Coyotes Bad?

Coyotes have always got a bad rap. This is because they have been known to cause property damage, prey on livestock, and cause fear and panic in humans, pets, and other animals. We have all shared that moment when you are outside of your home at night, and you hear coyotes wailing in the background.

Like me, you probably think, that’s a little bit too close to home. We have always feared creatures in the night, and that does not just happen to us, our pets and other animals can become panicked when they know that a predator is nearby. If you ever hear coyotes, and you have pets, you should put them inside.

Other than what we have mentioned, coyotes are just wild animals who do what they have to do to survive. Most of their prey comes from other wild animals, such as rodents, rabbits, and other small mammals that live in the wild.

Do Coyotes Kill Livestock?

Yes, coyotes have been known to kill livestock. This is a big problem for ranchers who have to rely on their livestock to make a living. There have been many reports of calves being killed, sometimes multiple times in a row.

In livestock, each animal is an investment, and if they do not make it around to being sold once they are fully grown, then money and time are lost. For this reason, ranchers and farmers have had a reputation for hating coyotes. They hunt them, kill them, and sometimes even leave their remains in their fields as a warning sign to other predators.

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Example of coyote with chickens.

Coyotes as Tricksters

Because of their intelligence, coyotes have been symbolized by many Native Americans as gods, tricksters, and other archetypal figures. The coyote usually represents a negative balance.

Many indigenous tribes of North America see the coyote as a creator being, who teams up with the co-creator, Earth Maker, to sing the earth into existence. Only to then vow to introduce and spread evil throughout the world.   

To the Navajo tribes, the coyote represented all of these things together. He was both good and bad, but that balance always ended with harmony among the people. Source.

Are Coyotes Dangerous to Dogs

Yes, coyotes are dangerous to dogs, cats, and other pets. Coyotes are wild animals that hunt other animals. This means that any small mammal is on the table. Even larger animals, like deer, can be taken down by a coyote.

Dogs and coyotes are both territorial. They could fight over a territorial dispute, over food, or, in some cases, a coyote may prey on a dog if it is suffering from starvation. In many cases, if the pet is killed over territory, the coyote will still eat it, because they are opportunistic.

If you think that you have coyotes coming around your home, then you should take precautions, such as keeping your pets inside, feeding them inside, and fortifying your yard with fencing if you see any sign that a predator is trying to get in.

Are Coyotes Getting Smarter?

There have been many scientific studies that suggest that coyotes have not just adapted and survived, they have done it extremely well. They have been able to thrive in environments, and in situations, where other wild animals have failed.

It is widely believed that coyotes are not just thriving but evolving to be smarter, more adaptive, and responsive to problems. Their problem-solving skills are what sets them apart from other canines and this helps to keep their population numbers up, whereas other species are declining.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Coyotes Smarter Than Dogs?

It is thought by some, that coyotes are evolving to be smarter than dogs. This is through years of studies about their survival skills, their predation skills, and their problem-solving skills. You could even say that coyotes are the new top dog in intelligent canines.

Are Coyotes Smarter Than Foxes?

Both of these canids are smart in their own ways. They also have a lot of similarities. Foxes are known as being clever, which can also be said of coyotes. Most canids have a decent level of intelligence but both coyotes and foxes have shown signs of evolving intelligence.

Are Coyotes Smarter Than Wolves?

Much of the coyote’s survival skills and intelligence can most likely be credited to their mating with wolves in the distant past. At some point, these two species crossed and interbreed. This could account for the large size of the coyote as well as for some of their intelligence

Chad Fox

Chad Fox is an outdoorsman who loves spending time in nature, working on ranches in Texas, and observing wildlife.

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