Coyotes and Livestock in Florida

Have you ever seen a coyote walking down the sidewalk or dashing across the highway?

You’re not alone. Over the past four to five decades, coyotes have expanded into Florida and have now been reported from the Panhandle to the Florida Keys.1 Coyotes adapt well to human environments and are known to prey on pets and livestock. This can cause problems for those who raise cattle, swine, poultry, sheep, and goats.2

Identifying Coyotes

Coyotes look similar to dogs and wolves and typically weigh about 25 pounds. Their fur can be a mixture of white, brown, gray, and sometimes black. Even if you don’t see coyotes, you may notice their paw prints or scat (feces), or you may hear them yipping, howling, or barking.2

Coyotes may be solitary, or live in pairs or larger groups. Coyotes are most often observed at dawn or dusk.2

Coyote-Livestock Conflicts

Coyote and livestock conflicts are most common during spring and fall because this is when livestock give birth and coyotes tend to prey on calves. Coyotes may also come to livestock areas to scavenge placenta or still-borne calves.1

Coyotes aren’t the only animals to prey on livestock, so it is important to verify that coyotes are to blame for calf deaths and whether or not the animal was scavenged rather than killed by a predator.1

Coyotes can be legally trapped and killed on private property in Florida. However, it is important to note that killing livestock is a learned behavior, which means that not all coyotes will prey on livestock. If removed, coyotes who have not learned how to kill livestock may be replaced by coyotes who do, so experts recommend only removing coyotes if there is evidence of predation.1

To learn how to read the signs of a coyote attacks on livestock, see Rancher Perceptions of the Coyote in Florida.

  1. Raoul K. Boughton, Bethany Wight, and Martin B. Main, Rancher Perceptions of the Coyote in Florida, WEC146, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2016,
  2. Lauren Watine, William M. Giuliano, Holly K. Ober, Raoul Boughton, Alexander Gulde, Angeline Scotten, Managing Conflicts with Wildlife: Living with Coyotes, WEC352, Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2014,

Photo by bgsmith/iStock/Thinkstock


Posted: March 28, 2016

Category: Agriculture, Livestock, SFYL Hot Topic, Wildlife
Tags: Agriculture Hot Topic, Coyotes, Florida Predators, Livestock Loss

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