How Coyotes Really Jump Fences (And Why They Do It)
Coyotes seem to be everywhere. Sneaking around farms, dumpster diving in cities, and prowling around dense forests. One of the things that make coyotes so annoying is that they can get into places they’re not supposed to be, such as over a fence and into someone’s yard.
In truth, coyotes generally jump over fences when stalking prey. Fences that are low, allow for proper footing, have climbable corners, and are made with wide gaps in the bars give coyotes opportunities to get through or over a fence. Fences should be at least 8ft tall to keep out coyotes.
Before we get into how coyotes jump fences, let’s go over a few reasons why these wily animals want to get past fences so badly!
Why Do You Need To Keep Coyotes Out?
Coyotes are predators, sure, but what’s so bad about keeping them around? Truthfully, coyotes do a lot of good for the environment, keeping small animals like mice, rats, rabbits, and squirrels under control.
With that being said, there are plenty of downsides to having these noisy canines around.
Coyotes Will Eat Anything
Coyotes have a pretty wide palate. They won’t hesitate to come into your yard for pet food that’s left out, food scraps in your trash can, or even your beloved pet.
If you want to keep your property coyote-free, it’s best to use a few different tactics to keep them out such as fencing and deterrents.
Coyotes can be a real menace to rural landowners. If you have chickens, goats, sheep, and even cattle, they can be at risk of coyote predation.
To learn more about what coyotes eat, check out our article: 23 Animals That Coyotes Eat: A Coyote Meal Guide
Coyotes Become Bold Around People
City-living coyotes are around people a lot more than their wilder rural cousins. You might not see the coyote, but it probably has seen you plenty of times.
These types of interactions make coyotes less afraid of people and more likely to harass both pets and people. Urban coyotes are far more likely to approach a person than those that live in forests and rural areas.
Why Do Coyotes Jump Fences?
If you live, well, anywhere in the continental U.S., Alaska, Canada, or Central America, then you live in coyote territory. Coyotes are plentiful, adapting to almost any environment, including those full of people.
There are tons of coyote repellents available online, but the most successful coyote deterrent is a coyote-proof fence. These are hard to construct, but not impossible.
It takes a lot of time and effort to construct a fence high enough, deep enough, and solid enough to keep a coyote out. They’re just so darn good at getting into places!
So, why do these wily coyotes try to jump fences in the first place? Shouldn’t they be out prowling around in the woods instead?
Let’s check it out!
Coyotes Follow The Same Routes
When coyotes go out on a hunt, they typically hunt alone or in pairs. Their diet consists of, well, everything. Seriously, these adaptive animals will eat rats and rabbits one day and berries and tree bark the next.
No matter what they’re hunting, be it meat or vegetables, they tend to follow the same route night after night. This helps them navigate in familiar territory. If they run into a rabbit or mouse, they know exactly where all the hiding places are, all the exits, and the terrain.
If a coyote is jumping your fence because it’s following familiar routes, your fence is likely new and it runs along the same path as the coyote is used to traveling to hunt.
Coyotes Can Be Territorial
Spring is the prime time for animals to have and raise their young. Coyotes are no different, usually giving birth to their young around March or April.
During the pup-rearing season, coyotes can become territorial. Family groups typically prowl a 5-6 mile diameter territory. Outside of the pup-rearing season, coyotes don’t mind if other coyote families cross into their land, but in the spring they defend it.
Similar to how coyotes use the same routes night after night, if a coyote is jumping your fence for territorial reasons, your fence is likely new and overlaps with coyote territory.
They may be jumping your fence to check for other coyotes to make sure no uninvited guests are barging in on their territory.
Coyotes Will Jump Fences When Stalking Prey
Coyotes are opportunistic predators. They’ll chow down on whatever is available whether it be an apple or a rabbit that happens to cross its path.
Their opportunistic behavior means if they’re stalking prey like mice or rabbits that can fit through fences, they may jump the fence to continue stalking.
This is especially true if the fence is easily climbable. Chain link fences or fencing with grooves give coyotes footholds to allow them to climb on up. If the fence has vertical bars, coyotes might be able to squeeze through the bars.
Coyotes aren’t likely to give up on prey just because an obstacle gets in the way. They know they need the food, and will continue to pursue it if possible.
If you are interested in scaring away coyotes with technology, you can look into products such as this Univerayo Coyote Deterrent!
Urban Coyotes May Lose Their Fear of Humans
You may be surprised to learn that coyotes can be found in large cities like New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. They’re rarely seen and very good at hiding from the watchful eyes of people.
Despite this, coyotes that are around people all the time tend to lose their fear of humans in a way that rural coyotes don’t. These city slickers get bold, stealing food off your porch, diving in your garbage, and even stalking pets.
A lack of fear makes coyotes bolder than ever. They won’t think twice about jumping your fence to get at any left-out food.
Coyotes Jump Fences When The Opportunity Arises
If a coyote is snoozing in a thicket of trees and suddenly gets disturbed, it’s more likely to try to avoid the disturbance than to attack it. Especially if it’s a human that disturbed the coyote.
Similarly, if a coyote sniffs out something to eat and it scurries away, our wily friend isn’t likely to just let it go without trying to catch it.
Opportunities like danger and prey give coyotes a reason to jump fences. They will try to avoid danger like humans by any means necessary, including jumping or squeezing through fences to escape.
As we mentioned before, coyotes will also jump over fences if the opportunity for a meal presents itself.
How Do Coyotes Jump Fences?
There are a ton of different kinds of fences. You’ve got your decorative fences, retaining walls, wooden, chainlink, and electrified fences.
As we mentioned before, making a coyote-proof fence can be difficult, not to mention costly. According to a 1982 study, the most successful fences tend to be those covering small areas.
Large acreage fences are harder to keep in good condition and electrified fences will go down more easily over large areas.
How exactly do coyotes navigate up and over these obstacles? And how can you tell that a coyote has navigated over your fence?
If you know a coyote is getting past your fence, the best way to discover where it’s getting through is to look for clues according to the University of California:
- Dirt piles next to a hole beneath your fence
- Coyote hair on the fence
- Scratch marks on solid fences
- Coyote scat near the fence
- Coyote tracks near the fence
If you identify the area of weakness, you can use deterrents to make sure coyotes stay off your fence and out of your yard. You might also find weaknesses in your fence such as broken boards, which you can then repair.
Coyotes Will Jump Over Low Fences
Our neighborhood coyotes have a full arsenal of tools to get around fencing. One of the easiest ways a coyote can get over a fence is simply to jump it.
However, to jump a fence, it has to be pretty low. This is likely to happen with decorative fences, or fences meant to keep small dogs in.
There are a few varying numbers when it comes to height, but according to the same study mentioned above, coyotes can jump over any fence that’s less than 66 inches (about 5.5 feet). Other sources like the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife, say that 5 feet are sufficient.
If you plan to construct a coyote-proof fence, it’s best to go a little higher rather than a little lower.
Coyotes Will Jump Up And Get A Foot Hold
If the fence is a little too high for our athletic canines, they may find another way to jump over the fence. They’ll use a combination of jumping and climbing.
To get over a tall fence, coyotes jump as high as they can against the fence and then use anything they can for a foothold. If they can get their paws on the top of the fence, they’ll pull themselves up and over.
Another way coyotes use the jump and climb method is when the fence has mesh or chain link – something the coyote can get its paws in – they’ll use it to boost their bodies up and over the fence.
Coyotes Use Corners To Climb Up And Over Fences
If the fence is simply too high to even attempt to jump, coyotes will resort to climbing instead of leaping. These clever canines will always find a way!
Fence corners provide a unique angle for coyotes to climb over fences, giving them two sides to climb. This is especially true with mesh or chainlink fences where coyotes can get a good foothold, er, paw hold.
Coyotes Straight Up Climb Fences With Footholds
Sometimes, coyotes don’t even need a running start to climb over fences. They can simply put their paws to work and climb up certain fence types.
Chainlink fence is probably the easiest fence for a coyote to climb over. They just have to put their paws in the openings and climb up like a ladder.
Some of the other types of fences that coyotes won’t hesitate to climb include:
- Vinyl fences – these are your typical ‘white picket fence’ types and are easy to climb due to the horizontal braces between the slats, which make great toe holds, or, paw holds.
- Metal bar fences – fences that have vertical bars running along them can still provide coyotes with a pretty decent base to climb up.
- Wood fence with slats – A coyote can turn anything that has grooves, slats, or exterior designs into a personal climbing wall. Unless the fence is smooth, a coyote can climb it.
In general, chainlink fences, vinyl fences, and wood fencing are the three cheapest fence designs. This is not including wire fencing such as for a horse or cow pasture, which is the absolute cheapest but easily overcome by our mischievous coyote.
If you’re wondering how to build your coyote-proof fence, check out our article Building The Best Coyote Proof Fence In 4 Simple Steps.
Other Ways That Coyotes Can Get Around Fences
If your fence doesn’t quite fit the bill for an easily climbable or easily jumped-over fence, your neighborhood coyote may be getting through some other way.
As we’ve mentioned before, coyotes are adaptable. If they can’t get over a fence, they’ll try to get through or beneath the fence.
Coyotes Can Dig Beneath Fences
When constructing a coyote-proof fence, it’s suggested to bury a galvanized wire apron beneath your fence, at least 15-24 inches. This apron should bend away from the fence in an ‘L’ shape.
The reason? Well, if a coyote is determined to get past the fence, they’ll dig a burrow beneath the fence and squeeze through. These are called ‘slides’ according to Texas A&M University and can be the result of rabbits, gophers, or coyotes.
The bigger the hole, the more likely it’s from a coyote.
Coyotes Can Squeeze Through Fence Bars
If you have a fence that’s meant more for decoration than keeping animals in or out, the residential coyotes will have no problem getting past it.
Even if your fence is ten feet high if it has vertical bars with spaces between, a coyote may be able to slip through. If they can fit their head through, they can fit their body through too
Coyotes live in Alaska, central and southern Canada, all across the U.S., and down through Central America. They’re everywhere!
These adaptive animals are super clever and can do some amazing things to survive. One of the coyote’s abilities includes being able to get under, through, or over fences.
To recap, here are all the ways that coyotes can get past fencing:
- Jump over low fences
- Jump up and gain a foothold.
- Using corners to climb over fences
- Using mesh, chainlink, or slats to climb over fences
- Digging beneath fences to create slides
- Squeezing through fence bars.
If you’re noticing coyotes are getting past your fence and into your yard, there are a few deterrents you can try to keep them out for good.
One of the better ways to keep coyotes away from your fence is by installing electrified wires a few feet in front of the fence.
While electrified fences can be effective, they can also trap coyotes beneath the fences. It’s a better deterrent to placing these electric lines in front of the fence as a warning to approaching coyotes.
You can also use scent-based deterrents as well, which you can learn more about in our article: The Five Scents That Coyotes Hate (and how to use them)
Coyotes can be a real nuisance in some instances. If you find yourself seeing coyotes on your property and can’t seem to scare them off, you can always contact a professional.
If you are interested in learning more awesome facts about coyotes, check out this article on 51 Amazing Coyote Facts!
Our nationwide pest control finder can get you in contact with a local professional. Using our partner network helps support Pest Pointers. Thanks, bunches!
Coyotes can be good to have around, but sometimes they can be a nuisance. Either way, they bring nature a little closer to us and prove that cleverness and adaptability can go a long way in survival.
Acorn, R. C., & Dorrance, M. J. (1994). An Evaluation of anti-coyote electric fences. Proceedings of the Vertebrate Pest Conference. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/6212v80p
Draheim, M. M., Parsons, E. C., Crate, S. A., & Rockwood, L. L. (2019). Public perspectives on the management of urban coyotes. Journal of Urban Ecology, 5(1). https://academic.oup.com/jue/article/5/1/juz003/5424021?login=true
Sayre, N. F. (2015, February 16). The Coyote-Proof Pasture Experiment: How fences replaced predators and labor on US rangelands. Progress in Physical Geography: Earth and Environment. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0309133314567582
Wade, D. A. (1982, February). The Use of Fences for Predator Damage Control. Proceedings of the Tenth Vertebrate Pest Conference, 10. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1046&context=vpc10
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
Download My Free E-Book!
Take a look at my guide on Pest Proofing Your Home In Under a Day! I get into the nitty-gritty on the most common types of pests you’ll see on your property including BOTH insects and wildlife, along with the specific signs to look for regarding any pest you have questions about.