Fear of rabies are one of the most common reasons that people kill coyotes. While it’s certainly not a good idea to approach, provoke, or handle any wild animal, coyotes are actually one of the less likely carriers of rabies in the United States.
In the 1970s, mass vaccination helped to eradicate the strain of rabies that preferentially infects dogs, wolves, and coyotes. Although this strain is often seen in other countries, and any mammal can catch any strain of rabies, the epidemic of rabid dogs and coyotes is long-gone from the United States.
Statistically, a coyote is much less likely to carry rabies than a stray cat, a raccoon, or even a cow. When coyotes do have rabies, they typically contract it from another species and don’t typically live long enough to spread the virus.
With that being said, if you do see a coyote that appears to be sick or unusually aggressive, it’s a good idea to keep a distance and contact your local animal control or game wardens as soon as possible. While it’s unlikely that the animal is rabid, any sick or aggressive coyote could be dangerous.