You’re inside, watching your favorite television show with your family. It’s late, and you’re about to yell at everyone to get ready for bed. As soon as you shut off the tv, you hear the never-ending yips of a pack of coyotes in a nearby den, not too far off from your home. Is there any way you can make sure those coyotes stay away from your home?
At first interaction, lights do scare and deter coyotes. However, once coyotes learn that bright lights cannot harm them, they will no longer be wary of approaching the lit area.
Whether or not lights work to deter coyotes away from your home depends on a multitude of factors. The main factor is that once coyotes learn and realize that lights are nothing but lights, they won’t be afraid of approaching that lit area any longer.
Bright Lights Will Only Keep Coyotes Away for a Little While
The primary type of light that we’re most likely thinking of here is a standard motion sensor light. Individuals use these lights to help protect against predators and coyotes alike.
Motion sensor lights are extremely bright lights that have a motion sensor attached to them. They are relatively straightforward, but essentially whenever an object or person crosses the path of the motion sensor light, the light turns on and makes the entire area visible.
Generally, bright motion sensor lights are placed on the front, back, or side of buildings for security purposes. They’re used to detect potential criminals from entering buildings from dimly lit entrance points. For our purposes, we like to use them to see if any predators are approaching our area.
As far as motion sensors go, we have a few outside of our house. This is a motion sensor that we have outside on our back deck facing the woods and forest. We’ve had this motion sensor light turn on a few times, but when it’s come on, I haven’t noticed any coyotes or other large predators.
That being said, when the light DOES go off, it could be a small night animal, such as a skunk, raccoon or opossum and not necessarily a coyote or large predator.
For a little more background, we have a TON of Eastern Coyotes in Upstate New York. According to the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the amount of Eastern Coyotes (link to NY DEC) in the state continues to grow each year.
Just to clarify, coyotes and other predators DISLIKE bright lights because it makes them realize their biggest fear – that of being exposed or caught. However, that fear will quickly be extinguished once the animals realize that the bright light isn’t a threat.
Coyotes and other predators seem to be more dangerous to your pets and livestock more so than yourself, which is where motion sensor lights can come in handy in every state of the U.S where there are coyotes.
While it sounds like I’m totally advocating for you to have a motion sensor light at your house – you’re right, I am.
However, I’m not advocating for you to have one for the purposes of deterring coyotes, predators, and other wildlife for the long term, and here’s why.
A light is just that – a light. It’s a stationary light that DOES NOT MOVE. The first time a predator or coyote approaches the vicinity of a bright motion sensor light, it’ll get blasted with a beam of light. The next time that the animal enters the area, it’ll get blasted with the same beam of light. If it enters the area again, the SAME thing will happen.
See a trend? If nothing bad happens to the coyote from being in the light, then it will learn that the light isn’t bad and it will no longer be afraid of it.
Sure, the first time that the coyote approaches the motion sensor light will probably cause it to be scared due to fear of the animal being caught. If it leaves the area, and never returns, then great! It worked.
If the coyote stays in the area, over time it learns, and learns, and learns that nobody is actually out there seeing and that it doesn’t have to be afraid of being caught when approaching the light.
There are coyotes all over the country in the United States and many of them. The United States Department of Agriculture states that coyotes live in every state of the U.S. (link to USDA) except for Hawaii.
Simply put, if one pack leaves your area (it’ll be unlikely with newborn pups) then another will come takes its place and learn not to be afraid of the lights after multiple interactions.
This, in turn, makes the light significantly less effective the more times a coyote approaches it.
Put this into your perspective. Let’s say you go get coffee at a new drive-through restaurant every day during the workweek. The first time you get your coffee, you might think it’ll be SUPER hot and may even burn your hand.
Once the employee hands you the coffee, you realize that the coffee wasn’t that hot at all and that actually, you were just worried that it would be hot. The next day (the second at the new restaurant) you go and get the exact same coffee and are slightly less worried that it will be too hot and burn you because of your neutral experience the day before.
The third day, you get the same coffee again, and it’s the perfect temperature again. You don’t have to worry about the coffee being hot and your much less likely to be hesitant when grabbing the coffee from here on out.
Now take that example, and apply it to how and what the coyote is thinking. The animal is scared of approaching the light at first, but once he realizes there is no real danger, then the coyote won’t be deterred by the light over time.
It’s all about learning. Animals learn the same way that we do – they have something happen to them, and they learn if that situation is a positive or negative experience overall.
So yes, a motion sensor light WILL probably deter a coyote or other predator the first time that the animal crosses its path. However, if there is nothing negative that happens to the animal after its interaction with the bright light, then the coyote won’t be scared of the light in the future.
You could hope that the initial interaction with the motion sensor light will be enough to scare or keep the coyotes away. Hopefully, they would be so afraid of the light that they would move their pack into a new den.
If the coyotes have had pups recently (which is extremely likely), they may be more hesitant to move their den. In actuality, newborn coyote pups stay at their den until at least 10 weeks old (link to Indiana DNR)
So if coyotes are in the area, they’ll more than likely STAY in the area and quickly figure out that your motion sensor light won’t bring it any actual harm.
Flashing Motion Sensor Lights are Useful for Spotting Coyotes
Okay, so motion sensor lights really aren’t that great for keeping coyotes away. However, they are still beneficial for actually spotting coyotes.
If a coyote learns that it can approach your motion sensor light without harm, then you’ll still be able to see the coyote once the light is activated.
This goes without saying, but that is a HUGE plus to getting a motion sensor light.
Additionally, motion sensor lights that provide a flashing feature similar to that of a strobe light may be helpful for confusing coyotes. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife (link to CPW), flashing strobe lights can be useful in keeping coyotes away.
In my mind, It would make sense that these bright, flashing, repetitive lights would be enough to confuse and daze a coyote or other predator. I wouldn’t rely on this in the long term, but it may impact the coyote more than what a regular motion sensor light would do upon first interaction.
Still, the value for motion sensor lights lies in the fact that it will help you spot coyotes whenever they get near your property – regardless of if they are afraid of the light or not.
That being said, investing in a solid motion sensor light with a strobe light feature wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Just because these lights may not keep coyotes away for the long term, they can still help you spot the coyotes and help you figure out your next course of action.
If you’re looking for an excellent motion sensor light, this Battery Operated Motion Sensor Security Light by FLI Products. is one that I really liked after doing some research.
It has a strobe light security feature and pivoting twin heads, which can allow you to determine how wide of an area you need your light to cover.
Additionally, its battery operated so you can put it wherever you want and there’s a good amount of user reviews on the website with pictures of people who have the light installed so you can see how bright it is.
The light is usually pretty cost effective and presents some great value.
No, I don’t own this motion sensor light. That’s because our current light/lights are still going strong after all these years and we haven’t had any issues. If we had some problems or found our current lights weren’t working, then I’d probably upgrade. Our main light was hard wired into our electric so we can turn it on and off. That whole process is a little more costly than what the LB1870QWH offers, which is why I think it would be a good starting light to get.
Will Any Lights Effectively Keep Coyotes Away?
I know it seems like all hope is lost and that there might not be any light-driven solution to keep coyotes away in the long term. However,
There is another option.
There’s an anti-predator light out there that seems like it has a really fantastic concept behind it.
The anti-predator light, otherwise called Predator Guard, works by mimicking a predator’s eyes during the night time in order to scare or keep away other predators or animals from approaching your property.
Basically, you set up 2 – 4 (You’ll most likely need at least 2) of these lights around your property at the eye level of whatever creature you’re trying to repel. In this case, we’re trying to repel a coyote. Once you set up the Predator Guard, it intermittently flashes small, red lights to mimic the eyes of enemy predators.
The product has a really great concept as it relies on invoking fear into the coyote (and other animals) by activating their already existing fear of getting discovered by a MUCH larger predator.
Really, I absolutely love the idea behind this product because it triggers the pre-existing fear of a coyote getting caught by another animal. The target coyote would have already learned of the dangers of running into another enemy predator at night. This, in turn, would lead to the coyote recognizing the anti-predator light as potentially dangerous and would make it theoretically steer clear of the light all costs.
This idea is MUCH more effective than that of using a motion sensor light to deter coyotes. Simply put, the motion sensor light requires the coyote to have an extremely negative experience after interacting with the light to keep them away long term, which is something that is very unlikely.
Conversely, the anti-predator light will trigger an already existing fear in the animal to keep them away, which should be pretty effective.
Sorry that I said the same thing twice over there, I just wanted to make sure that you were able to understand the psychology behind both of the lights.
Now, if the concept actually works is another story.
Some of the reviews online are hit or miss, so I would recommend looking into those and seeing if the light is the right fit for you.
Personally, I think that every situation the light would be used in is completely different. There are too many variables out in nature that can affect how a product like this works.
Also, the light is ENTIRELY dependent on the animal and if it has had a negative interaction with a predator prior to seeing the light. Chances are it has, but there are again a ton of variables to account for. So many that you can’t 100% predict the results of how this light will work.
If you’re interested in checking out the anti-predator lights a little bit further, you can check out the Predator Guard here.
I’m trying to be impartial here because obviously, I would love for you to click on the affiliate link and help me earn some commission. While I DO think that the Predator Guard or another similar type of anti-predator light would be a really good initial solution to try out, I think there are some other steps you need to take in addition to purchasing the lights.
Get Rid of any Coyote Attractants Around Your Property
It’s a simple one that may not be as obvious as you’d originally think.
Simply put, here is what you should do to deter coyotes from entering your yard:
- Never knowingly feed the coyotes – this can lead the animals to come back for additional food.
- Don’t make any food or water available to the coyotes, such as pet food, grill scraps, bird feeders, and compost.
- Properly dispose of garbage and make sure your trash is properly sealed so coyotes can’t smell it.
- Keep your lawn maintained and grass height to a minimum.
- Lock all animals and livestock indoors at night.
- Install a motion sensor light to spot coyotes or other predators at night.
These are a few basics, but essentially, here’s a short summary of those steps:
1. Never knowingly feed the coyotes – this can lead the animals to come back for additional food.
In order to deter coyotes from your yard, it’s essential to avoid accidentally feeding the animals. If you feed the animals, they WILL come back because your property will be a new and reliable food source for them. Some coyotes may look adorable, but DO NOT feed them
2. Don’t make any food or water available to the coyotes, such as pet food, grill scraps, bird feeders, and compost.
This means getting rid of all bird feeders, pet food, and trying to minimize water sources, so your yard is less desirable to the coyotes. If there are easily accessible food sources available to the coyotes, then they’ll keep coming back for an easy meal.
3. Properly dispose of garbage and make sure your trash is properly sealed so coyotes can’t smell it.
Just about the same thing as step 2. If coyotes are able to smell food on your property and they find that it’s easily accessible, they’ll keep coming back for an effortless and routine food source. This is one thing that many people overlook. You need to either compost your food scraps or put them in the garbage but keep the lid EXTREMELY tight to prevent the scent from getting out.
4. Keep your lawn maintained and grass height to a minimum.
Coyotes love to stalk and hunt in tall grass because they cannot be seen in it. If you keep your grass height to a minimum, coyotes will feel much less comfortable hunting on your property – which makes it a less attractive spot for them overall.
5. Lock all animals and livestock indoors at night
This is a big one. Don’t leave your animals outside at night, even if you have a big guard dog like I do. My dog Vito weighs about 120lbs, while a coyote can weigh anywhere from 20 – 50lbs (link to Britannica). Coyotes prefer to hunt smaller animals, especially if they are by themselves. However, if the coyotes are in a pack of 10, they could very quickly take down Vito. Keep your animals safe and just lock them indoors at night.
6. Install a motion sensor light to spot coyotes or other predators at night.
I think you know a lot about this one already from the rest of the article. Use a motion sensor light to spot coyotes that may be on your property at night. You might be able to catch a glimpse of where they’re entering from if you’re lucky. If you feel like it’d be helpful to see where the coyotes are coming in from or what they’re doing on your property at night, a reliable trail camera can help you do that.
You’ll need one that has a night mode that can spot the coyotes in the dark. Here’s a good trail camera from Campark that comes very highly regarded, has a quality camera with night mode and doesn’t break the bank.