The assistant director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Service said no state can eradicate coyotes.

“They live inside city limits, in the country, in rocky or sandy terrains and in the Piedmont,” Todd Menke said. ““When hunting pressure gets heavy, they become nocturnal. If there’s too much trapping pressure, they’ll leave an area.

Even if North Carolina could (wipe out coyotes), “surrounding states have huge numbers,” he said. “(Juveniles) disperse each October, so even if you cleaned them out, in six months you’d have the same number of coyotes. To exterminate them here would take a huge effort and a lot of money.”

Menke said the best hope for cattle farmers, who suffer the most from coyote attacks, is trapping.

He explained the basic technique for setting coyote traps is the same as for foxes, with one exception. Instead of trying to alter the environment to force an animal to dig where a trap is buried, coyote trappers must make an area appear as natural as possible.

“Coyotes are longer-legged than foxes, so the trap also has to be farther back (from the bait),” he said.

Fox trappers often use sardines as lures. Those smelly fish will attract coyotes, but Menke said slightly rancid venison or beaver meat — both natural foods — may work better.

“You also can increase the pan tension on a trap to three or four pounds,” he said. “If you’re at an area where you can’t trap foxes, that’ll exclude most foxes, but it still catches coyotes.”

A basic coyote trap set-up includes a No. 3 coil-spring leg-hold trap with a jaw spread of six inches and smooth jaws.

A “dirt-hole” set is popular. An explanation and diagram is available at

Traps should be near travel routes where tracks are found.

“During January and February, coyotes pair up to breed,” Menke said, “so you can use a post-type set-up and put coyote or fox urine on it or (liquid from their leg) glands.”

A trapper may put those liquids “on grass or pieces of wood, where a coyote marks its territory.”

Scent control is another key.

“Many trappers wear rubber boots,” Menke said. “The less scent you leave, the better. The key is to make a set and get out quick.”

Traps must be anchored to the ground. Often rebar is used, but Menke said sometimes a trapper must drive two pieces or rebar into the ground.

“There’s a new disposable stake,” he said. “It’s an anchor design that’s got a little bend at the end so when caught coyote can’t pull it out of the ground.”