In the entire recorded history of the United States, coyotes have killed exactly two people. While these deaths are horrific tragedies, they are extraordinarily unusual… especially when compared to the 150 Americans who die every single year as a result of car accidents involving deer, and the dozens of people who are attacked by bucks in rut.
White-tailed deer are beautiful animals that are vital to our ecosystem, but they are also horrifically overpopulated. In the past few centuries, the elimination of grey wolves, pumas, and bears from most of the U.S. led to a massive explosion in deer populations. Scientists say that the U.S.’s ecosystem can sustain about eight deer per kilometer. The current average? One hundred deer per kilometer. This extreme density isn’t good for the ecosystem, and their overpopulation is causing human deaths.
Enter the coyote. This adaptable, intelligent predator spread its range eastward after its cousin, the grey wolf, was extirpated. It poses much less of a danger to humans, pets, and livestock than bears or pumas, making it suitable for human-populated areas where larger predators (and human hunters) would be too dangerous. Although it’s uncommon for a coyote to prey on healthy adult deer, they thin out the sick, weak, and elderly members of a herd and are likely to keep deer-involved car accidents more limited.
Of course it may be alarming to hear coyotes in your suburban neighborhood, but they are statistically very unlikely to hurt you or anyone in your family. Keep your pets inside after dark and avoid leaving pet food outside. Let coyotes do their job of helping to re-stabilize an ecosystem that has been harmed.