Trapping Coyotes


There are many effective methods for trapping coyotes, and success can be enhanced by considering several key points. Coyotes learn from past events that were unpleasant or frightening, and they often avoid such events in the future. In spring and summer, most coyotes limit their movements to a small area, but in late summer, fall, and winter they may roam over a larger area.

Coyotes follow regular paths and crossways, and they prefer high hills or knolls from which they can view the terrain. They establish regular scent posts along their paths, and they depend on their ears, nose, and eyes to sense danger.

The following describes one method of trapping that has proven effective for many beginners.

Items Needed to Set a Coyote Trap:

  • One 5-gallon (19-l) plastic bucket to carry equipment.  
  • Two No. 3 or No. 4 traps per set.  
  • One 18-to 24-inch (46-to 61-cm) stake for holding both traps in place.  
  • Straight claw hammer to dig a hole in the ground for trap placement and to pound the stake into the ground.
  • Leather gloves to protect fingers while digging the trap bed.
  • Cloth (or canvas) feed sack to kneel on while digging a trap bed and pounding the stake.
  • Roll of plastic sandwich bags to cover and prevent soil from getting under the pan of the trap.
  • Screen sifter for sifting soil over the traps.
  • Rib bone for leveling off soil over the traps once they are set in place and covered.
  • Bottle of coyote urine to attract the coyote to the set (keep urine away from other equipment).

Locating the Set. Coyotes travel where walking is easy, such as along old roads, and they have preferred places to travel, hunt, rest, howl, and roam. Do not set traps directly in a trail but to one side where coyotes may stop, such as on a hilltop, near a gate, or where cover changes. Make the set on level ground to ensure that the coyote walks across level ground to it.

Good locations for a set are often indicated by coyote tracks. The following are good locations on most farms and ranches for setting traps: high hills and saddles in high hills; near isolated land features or isolated bales of hay; trail junctions, fences, and stream crossings; pasture roads, livestock trails, waterways, game trails, and dry or shallow creek beds; near pond dams, field borders, field corners, groves of trees, and eroded gullies; sites near animal carcasses, bone or brush piles; and under rim rocks.

Making the Set. Place three to five trap sets near the area where coyotes have killed livestock.

  • First, observe the area where the losses are occurring and look for tracks and droppings to determine the species responsible. Study the paths used by predators. If you have 4 hours to spend setting traps, spend at least 3 of them looking for coyote sign.
    • Decide where to place the trap sets. Always place them in an open, flat area because of wind currents, dispersion of scent, and visibility. Never place traps uphill or downhill from the coyote’s expected path of approach.
    • Look for open places where coyote tracks indicate that the animal milled around or stopped. Place the set upwind from the path (or site of coyote activity) so the prevailing wind will carry the scent across the area of expected coyote activity.
    • Choose a level spot as close as possible to, but not directly on, the coyote’s path. The coyote’s approach should never be over dry leaves, tall grass, stones, sticks, weeds, or rough ground. Make each set where the coyote has clear visibility as it approaches.
    • Place the set using two No. 3 traps with a cold-shut chain repair link affixed to the top of a steel stake. The link should swivel around the stake top. The stake should be at least 18 inches (46 cm) long, or longer if the soil is loose. Use two stakes set at an angle to each other if the soil will not hold with a single stake.
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