Why do people not eat coyote?

Coyotes are not commonly eaten by humans for a few key reasons:

Taste and Texture

Coyote meat is said to have a strong, gamey flavor that many find unappealing. The meat can be tough and stringy, especially in adult coyotes. Unlike domesticated livestock that have been bred for palatability, coyotes are wild animals that exercise vigorously. This results in lean, muscular meat that requires careful preparation to make tender. Many find the distinctive taste and texture of coyote meat unpleasant.

Health Concerns

Eating the meat of carnivorous animals like coyotes carries some health risks. Coyotes can harbor diseases, parasites, and other pathogens that can infect humans. Trichinosis, rabies, tularemia, and canine distemper are examples of zoonotic diseases that coyotes may carry. Coyotes are also prone to mange, which can produce unhealthy skin and fur. Proper handling and thorough cooking can reduce, but not eliminate, the risks of disease transmission. Avoiding predator meat altogether is the safest option.

Difficulty of Hunting

Hunting coyotes for meat poses challenges compared to pursuing typical game animals. Coyotes are fast, cunning, and have extremely keen senses of smell and hearing. Their small size also limits the amount of meat obtained from each kill. Coyotes reproduce quickly, but are spread thinly across their territory. Bagging one requires great skill as a hunter or lengthy tracking and baiting efforts. The difficulty of successfully and humanely harvesting coyotes makes them an impractical protein source.

Ethical Concerns

Some avoid eating coyote meat due to ethical opposition to killing the animals. Coyotes play an important ecological role in controlling pests and maintaining balanced ecosystems. As opportunistic predators, coyotes help regulate populations of rodents and other small mammals. Removing coyotes from environments can have detrimental cascading effects. Additionally, many feel compassion for coyotes and object to causing them harm or distress merely for culinary interests.

Cultural Taboos

In some cultures, eating coyote meat is considered taboo. Certain Native American tribes have myths and legends about coyotes holding supernatural powers. Consuming coyote meat is believed to transfers its spiritual essence in harmful ways. Additionally, tricksters and fools are sometimes coyote archetypes in folklore. Eating such a culturally symbolic animal may feel inappropriate or disrespectful to those values.

Availability of Alternatives

With abundant options for other meats like chicken, pork, and beef, most people simply prefer to eat domesticated livestock over coyote. Obtaining those familiar meats is convenient and affordable at any grocery store. They have predictable flavors and textures that are more universally enjoyed. The meat also comes from animals bred specifically for human consumption under regulated conditions. With so many suitable alternatives, few feel compelled to seek out coyote meat.

Negative Associations

In some regions, coyotes are viewed negatively as a pest or threat. They will prey on livestock and pets in rural areas. Urban coyotes can become habituated to human environments. Associating coyotes with lost pets or financial losses from animal attacks causes some to view them as vermin rather than valid game. This makes the idea of eating coyote meat unappealing.


It is illegal to sell coyote meat commercially in many areas due to wildlife protection laws. Coyotes can only legally be hunted for consumption during specific seasons with proper permits and tags. There are often bagging limits as well. The restrictions around procuring coyote meat makes it impractical and inaccessible for broader culinary use. Purchasing coyote meat from unverified sources could also risk accidentally obtaining dog or wolf meat illegally.

Difficult Preparation

Preparing coyote meat for cooking requires extra steps compared to domestic meats. Extreme caution must be taken to avoid contamination during field dressing. The meat should be aged for days to tenderize tissues broken down by rigor mortis. Removal of all fat, membranes and glands is essential to avoid strong flavors. Vinegar washing, brining, marinating and pre-cooking in liquid are often vital for improving flavor and texture. The extra complexity turns many home chefs away.

Lack of Food Culture

No established food culture exists around cooking and eating coyote meat. No traditional recipes, preparation methods, or cooking techniques get passed down through generations. This lack of culinary wisdom and precedent makes it difficult for those interested to learn how to properly turn coyotes into appetizing dishes. Developing an entire cuisine takes time, which discourages individual experimentation and adoption.

Confusion with Wolves and Dogs

In areas where coyotes interbreed with wolves and dogs, their meat may be avoided to avoid accidental consumption of hybrid animal flesh. Coyotes can mate with domestic dogs, producing “coydogs” that may be born in the wild and hunted by humans unaware of their partial genetic ancestry. Coyotes are also known to breed with the eastern wolves, red wolves and gray wolves they cohabitate with in parts of North America. There is no simple way for hunters to distinguish pure coyote from wolf or coydog by sight, further discouraging use as food.

Limited Demand

Very few people actively seek out coyote meat or express interest in eating it. With no consumer demand or commercial market for coyote meat, there is no economic incentive for suppliers to harvest and sell it. The lack of desire to try coyote in the general population perpetuates its continued exclusion from the food system. No push for change means the existing social taboos and culinary avoidance remain firmly in place.

Potential for Over hunting

If coyote meat became more popular, many worry it could lead to unchecked hunting that risks severely depleting populations. Coyotes breed often and in large litters, but are vulnerable to over predation. They play an important role in the environment that could be disrupted if too many are killed for food. Strict monitoring and conservation measures would be needed to prevent irresponsible levels of coyote harvesting.

Lack of Monitoring and Regulation

There is minimal oversite governing the hunting and consumption of coyotes currently. No systems are in place to monitor coyote populations, establish protective bagging limits, enforce reporting requirements, or regulate sales of coyote meat. There are also no standardized procedures for handling, processing and preparing the meat in sanitary conditions. Establishing effective health and wildlife agencies would be needed to safely integrate coyote meat into the food system.

Negligible Nutritional Value

Some avoid eating coyote meat because it offers little unique nutritional value compared to other meats. Coyote meat is very lean and low in fat like other game meats. However, it does not stand out for being particularly high or low in other macronutrients, vitamins or minerals. The minimal health benefits of coyote meat make it easy to obtain comparable nutritional profiles from more commonplace food sources.

Association with Survival Situations

In modern times, eating coyote meat has become associated with desperate survival situations rather than everyday dining. Cases of people eating coyotes out of necessity during famines, harsh weather disasters, or when lost in the wilderness contribute to the perception that coyote is only acceptable fare when facing death. The link to dire circumstances further stigmatizes coyote meat as an uncommon last resort.

Specialized Taste

Eating coyote meat is considered a very specialized interest only suitable for those with acquired tastes. Much like goat meat, organ meats, gamey cheeses, and other foods with strong and unusual flavors, coyote meat does not align with most mainstream palates. Food adventurists and those seeking novel experiences may try it out of curiosity. But for average consumers, coyote’s exotic reputation limits its appeal as part of a regular diet.

Difficulty Farm Raising

It is challenging to raise coyotes in captivity for meat in the same way other livestock are farmed. Though coyotes can be kept in pens, their wild instincts and behaviors make them difficult to manage safely and humanely. They are also prone to highly stressful captivity that negatively impacts their health and meat quality unless very specific welfare needs are met. Responsibly raising coyotes for food would require an alternative to traditional farming.

Uncertain Supply Chain

Those interested in trying coyote meat face substantial uncertainty when attempting to source it. With no commercial coyote meat producers or structured markets, obtaining it relies on word-of-mouth contacts with trappers, hunters and game processors. Quality, freshness and handling practices are unknowns without a monitored supply chain. Home freezers, not refrigerated warehouses, tend to store any existing reserves of coyote meat. The supply instability dissuades broad consumption.

Association with Rural Locations

The areas where hunting coyotes is legal and practical are largely rural. Urban and suburban areas prohibit discharging firearms and taking game within town or city limits in most cases. This geographical association with rural living spaces contributes to the perception of eating coyote as a folksy or country custom that does not translate into metropolitan cuisine.

Perceived Lack of Sophistication

There is a cultural perception in some circles that consuming coyote meat is primitive, pedestrian behavior. Among affluent crowds that value sophistication and refinement, eating coyote may be viewed as an unsophisticated practice linked to poverty, ignorance or provincialism. Social pressure and arrogance about foodie culture can fuel coyote meat avoidance among those aspiring to elevated social status.

Association with Indigenous Groups

Consumption of coyote meat is widely associated with indigenous American cultures who once relied on hunting coyotes for sustenance. With a long history of cultural appropriation, those outside these ethnic groups may feel uncomfortable adopting coyote meat eating out of sensitivity toward indigenous practices. A desire not to wrongly lay claim or partake inappropriately in native customs can discourage broader adoption.

Perceived Dangers of Wild Meat

Misconceptions about health risks of wild game lead some to avoid coyote meat as dangerous or unclean. Fears of parasites, bacteria, and mysterious toxins stem from misinformation and alarmism around foods outside the commercial supply chain. In reality, properly handled and thoroughly cooked wild game poses minimal hazards, but negative perceptions still deter interest for many consumers.

Use as Livestock Protection

Some ranchers employ techniques like using guard dogs, scare guns and alarms to actively deter coyotes from preying on livestock. They have no interest in eating the very animals they view as a threat to their livelihoods. Killing coyotes is done solely to protect flocks and herds, not to harvest meat for human consumption in these situations.

Lack of Recognition as Food

In areas where they roam wild, coyotes are simply not viewed as a viable food source by most people. They are seen as rugged predators that roam the landscapes, not potential entrees. The idea of eating coyotes is unlikely to even cross the minds of urban and suburban residents. Their status as wildlife rather than livestock means few consider them edible.

Difficulty Identifying Coyote Tracks and Scat

For those interested in hunting coyotes for meat, tackling the learning curve of coyote tracking poses a barrier. Distinguishing coyote paw prints, gaits, scrapes and scat takes practice for amateur hunters who lack experience with these wild animals. Coyotes share habitats with foxes, wolves and domestic dogs that leave similar sign. Successful pursuit relies on mastering coyote identification skills first.

Lack of Facilities to Process Meat

Commercial slaughterhouses and meat processing facilities do not recognize coyotes within their USDA inspection protocols. There is no system in place to handle coyotes like approved livestock such as cows, pigs and chickens. Butchering and preparing the meat must happen through personal DIY methods, limiting accessibility for wider culinary experimentation.

No Promotion by Restaurants and Retail

Unlike more mainstream meat options, there are no major grocery chains, restaurants, brands or celebrity chefs promoting the use of coyote meat. The absence of marketing campaigns, promotions, and products featuring coyote keeps broader awareness low. Their efforts play a key role in popularizing consumption of other novelty meats like bison, ostrich and emu.

Inconsistent Meat Quality and Yields

With no production standards, the quality and useable meat yield of coyotes can vary widely. Age, sex, season, diet and method of take all impact flavor, texture and overall eating experience. One coyote may offer very different amounts of quality meat compared to another, making outcomes unpredictable. This lack of consistency makes coyotes a riskier menu choice.

Cost Versus Benefit

When considering effort compared to usable quantity of meat, hunting and processing coyotes offers a poor return on investment for many. between small carcass size and meticulous required preparation, the cost-benefit analysis of eating coyote meat is unappealing from a time and labor perspective. Large game or domestic animals require less proportional work.

Heat Destroys Parasites

Many pathogens that coyotes potentially carry are neutralized when meat is adequately cooked to recommended internal temperatures. Well-done meat destroys problematic parasites like Trichinella as well as bacteria, minimizing food safety risks. Proper handling and cooking provide protection without needing to avoid the meat altogether.

Rarity Adds Appeal for Some

Within adventurous foodie circles, the uncommon nature of eating coyote meat adds novelty appeal. The obscurity and unconventionality become attractive qualities for those seeking distinctive dining experiences. Bold culinarians eager to stand out embrace ingredients like coyote that add exotic flair.

Tradition of Subsistence Hunting

There is a long and continuing tradition of eating coyote meat out of necessity for sustenance. Indigenous tribes, pioneers, trappers, and hunters have relied on hunting coyotes and other wild game to survive harsh conditions with scarce resources. This history lives on in isolated rural communities.

Pests in Some Locations

Areas where coyote populations grow overly abundant, aggressive and intrusive on human settlement see them as a nuisance to be managed rather than valued wildlife. Killing problem coyotes is encouraged, so consumption provides an avenue to make use of excessive numbers.

Prevalent Rabies Vaccinations

The high rates of rabies vaccinations for domestic dogs, especially in developed areas, have also lowered rabies transmission risks to coyotes in recent decades. This reduces chances of humans contracting rabies from eating properly cooked coyote meat.

Brucellosis Nearly Eradicated in Wild Populations

Brucellosis infections have been nearly eliminated in North American wild canids through active disease control programs. The disappearing threat of brucellosis in coyotes further assuages concerns about consumption.

No Longer Necessary for Survival

Modern food production and distribution systems provide nutritional variety without needing to rely on hunting wild game. In areas with prolific agriculture and extensive trade networks, eating coyote is an optional culinary experience, not a caloric or economic necessity.

Population Waxing and Waning

Coyote populations in any given area rise and fall over time in relation to food availability, pressure from predators, and environmental factors. Their numbers rebound rapidly, allowing for responsibly limited harvesting for food even where hunted.


In the end, the decision of whether to eat coyote meat comes down to personal preferences, values, and accessibility. Their use as a food source ebbs and flows situationally based on location, culture, era and individual tastes. Coyotes offer a controversial ingredient avoided by many, but embraced by others seeking a novel delicacy.

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