Neighborhood Coyote

This refers to an unincorporated California neighborhood, so city laws would probably not apply, but state and county laws would. Again, California–so, keep that in mind while reading this.

The other day, my wife and I were walking our dog through our neighborhood. We encountered a coyote about 25-30 yards from us. I had her take our dog in between two parked cars, while I moved in the coyote’s direction. I figured I could easily spook it. But, I was also carrying. Obviously, I wasn’t planning on hurting the animal, but if it charged I wouldn’t have much choice. Yes, the coyote ran off as expected, but I got to wondering what legal ramifications would have occured if I needed to shoot it. This wasn’t in the wild, it was in a neighborhood, so it likely would’ve received attention. Obviously, this is a little different than a human attacking with deadly force, so … I don’t know … I’m just wondering if anyone has some insight on how this might’ve ended, if I had to draw.

I’m brand new to these forums, so if this is in the wrong area, or off topic, or whatever, I apologize.


welcome to the forum
it depends what you have for laws
up here there’s no question on human and pet safety
if the yote charges its fair game


@Jon97 You would have to check your local laws for discharging a firearm in a residential
area and state game laws about dangerous animals.
I would suggest you also carry a larger pepper spray or jell, and I always carry a cane or walking stick.
And welcome to our Community we are glad to have you here. :slightly_smiling_face:


As those above have stated it really comes down to local laws. But the attitude/politics of local LEOs and prosecutors could also come into play on whether or not you would get charged with breaking any of those laws.

Coyote attacks on people are incredibly rare. Unless you have your dog running off leash ahead of you there is very little chance of a violent encounter. But in that case you would then have to deal with trying to get a shot while your dog and the coyote were violently fighting each other. Not an easy shot to make so having a stick or pepper spray/gel could come in handy.

The only interactions with coyotes and dogs I have personally witnessed is multiple dogs chasing coyotes. You are actually much more likely to have a negative encounter with the neighbors’ dogs or a pack of feral or semi feral dogs.


I think you hit the nail on the head. We have a lot of coyotes around here, but the real threat has always been pack dogs. Several came through and killed most of the neighborhood outdoor cats about a year ago. Even my next door neighbor has a pitbull that is not trustworthy. Once he got out and charged me at my front door, and only by getting in the house fast enough did I avoid him. Another time he was loose and charged my cat (in my own backyard), dislocating her right knee and causing a permanent limp. I’m amazed she got away from him at all. This is a well cared for, domestic dog that lives with a family, but he’s still unpredictable and dangerous.

I’d be very reluctant to discharge a firearm near any house, for any reason other than a true, indisputable threat to human life. I carry a revolver with snake shot when I’m working on my property because we have a lot of venomous snakes around here, but I hope I never need it and don’t want anyone calling 911 for shots fired on my property.


A call to the Sheriff’s Office might be the best course of action.

I once visited a cousin in Valley Springs CA and heard gunshots from a neighbor’s outdoor range.
If I tried that within city limits, the SWAT team would arrive uninvited.


If you had to draw, hitting a moving coyote with a handgun is another thing altogether. I recollect visiting my wife’s family in MT where killing coyotes is a serious matter. We were riding with a friend who suddenly slammed his truck to a stop, grabbed his lever gun, jumped out and started shooting at a group of nearby coyotes. Ran out of ammo and missed every single one.

Rick Perry is the only one I know of who has successfully hit a moving coyote with a handgun, and with a Ruger LCP no less (grin).