Coyote Trapping

In rare instances when a coyote may present an actual threat to human health or safety, the state is already allowed under current law to capture and kill the problem animal, using restricted traps if necessary. 

Trapping nuisance coyotes in residential neighborhoods can be dangerous because traps may harm children, domestic pets, and non-target animals.  In addition, if coyotes are removed from an area, others will simply move into this available habitat

Coyote are typically shy, elusive animals and generally avoid contact with people.  

Recently, several new stories have reported about coyotes and reactions by officials within cities and towns that caused panic and concern.  This fear was not based on an understanding of coyotes and their tendency to avoid people.  There have been only 5 people bitten by coyotes in Massachusetts since the 1950s - one animal appeared to have been fed and cared for by human beings and had become accustomed to people, two others tested positive for rabies and a third is suspected of having rabies; another was not recovered after being shot by police.  The state already has the ability to capture and kill problem coyotes.

Use of leghold traps should only happen if human health or safety is at risk and there is no other solution; use of these traps often results in limb amputations, fractures, and agonizingly slow deaths for captured animals.

The restrictions in the 1996 ballot question did not impact the coyote population because trapping on land was not allowed for decades before the ballot question that restricted the use of these traps.  There is a nearly 5-month long hunting season on coyote in Massachusetts and a trapping season with box/cage traps.

The state’s foremost coyote researcher successfully uses box and cage traps to capture coyotes for research.

The most effective way to safely co-exist with coyote is to take steps to prevent conflicts before they occur.   To prevent problems with wildlife the MSPCA urges people to:

  • Never feed a wild animal.
  • Avoid any contact with wildlife.
  • Keep trash securely covered or indoors.
  • Feed pets inside or supervise outdoor feedings, and keep the area clean.
  • Keep cats and dogs indoors, especially at night, and supervise them when outside at all times.
  • Report any strange behavior to local police or animal control.
  • Be sure your dogs and cats are up-to-date on their rabies vaccinations.
  • Regularly clean outdoor grills.
  • If you keep a bird feeder, clean up spilled seed to avoid attracting other forms of wildlife that feed on the seed or feed on the rodents that feed on the spilled seed.


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