Are Coyotes Afraid of Fire? Here’s What You Should Know

If you’re planning on camping in a coyote-dense area, you might wonder whether they’ll sneak up on you at the campfire, or if they’re afraid of the fire and won’t come near.

So, are coyotes afraid of fire? Can you use fire to scare coyotes away from your campsite?

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Coyotes are Usually Afraid of Fire

Coyotes don’t like being too close to a fire and can usually be scared away by its heat and flames. However, the presence of humans is more than likely to scare off coyotes, as they typically avoid human contact.

Coyotes are curious animals that may investigate movements caused by flames, especially if they think there might be food around. 

For example, if you are cooking over a fire and this happens to attract mice, squirrels, skunks, opossums or other small mammals that could in theory draw the attention of a coyote.

Fires, especially smaller ones, are not always certain to scare them off. Coyotes will be even less likely to fear fires if they are exposed to them often without being harmed by them.

Are Coyotes Afraid of Fire

For example, if they live near a campground with frequent campfires, they won’t be as scared by them. 

The same goes with humans. In urban areas, coyotes are not necessarily afraid of humans, because they have adapted to live alongside of people and get used to a certain level of scent and interaction.

In most cases, coyotes are nocturnal and most active in the evening, but there is not a reason to think that a campfire will scare away a coyote.

Coyotes Are Most Afraid of Large Fires

Wildfires are natural occurrences that animals have been living with for centuries. Their instinct to avoid fire has evolved over many years and is not so different from our own instinct to run away from large fires.

Smaller fires can carry some of the same risks, sometimes causing coyotes to react in fear, but they are less likely to scare a coyote off. 

However, if there are humans around the fire, this will be enough to deter coyotes from venturing close – wild coyotes usually want to avoid humans, unless they’re being fed by them.

Are Coyotes Attracted to Campfires?

Small Coyote

A lot of people are afraid that they will be attacked by coyotes while camping, especially if coyotes are truly attracted by campfires.

Coyotes want to avoid humans, so they usually avoid campfires. But if they’re hungry and they smell food roasting over the fire, they may be bold and scout the area, or get curious and smell downwind

If there aren’t any humans around the fire, they will be more likely to get close, but the chances of them being attracted to the campfire are still low. 

Coyotes Fearing Fire is Present in Mythology.

Indigenous Peoples of North America have noticed that coyotes fear fire.

In Navajo mythology, there is even a famous native story about why coyotes are afraid of fire (and why they have yellow eyes).

According to the legend, after losing his eyes in a gambling game, the trickster Coyote has his eyes replaced with tree sap. When he gets too close to fire, however, the sap starts to melt. 

Can You Deter Coyotes With Fire?

If you want to prevent coyotes from snooping around your property or another area, fire is not the best tool to use. It’s risky and not certain to be effective.

Although coyotes generally avoid fire, the fire would have to be very large to actually stop them from visiting – large enough that it would pose a risk to your own property and surrounding environment (not to mention your respiratory health). 

You could try setting up torches or small bonfires around your property, which may discourage coyotes from coming close since they may think there are humans around. But once they realize there aren’t humans close by, the fires won’t be very effective. 

When using fire as a tool, always be mindful of any leaf litter, branches, and dry shrubs around that could catch on fire.

Try Using Light to Deter Coyotes

Coyotes are scared by bright and sudden lights – they are not used to coming across strong white lights in their natural habitat, so they are usually wary of them. Lights are commonly used as a coyote deterrent.

Some fires can be very bright and deter coyotes in the same way, but a much easier method is to put up motion-detecting lights around your home or farm that will turn on when coyotes or other wildlife come close. 

Related: Can Coyotes See Infrared Light? You May Be Suprised…


Coyotes have a natural fear of fire. They are usually scared by large fires, but they won’t be very scared by small fires. Plus, if they get used to fire, they eventually won’t be scared by it at all. 

If you’re camping, your campfire probably won’t be visited by a coyote if humans are close by. And if you’re trying to scare coyotes away, fire is not the safest nor the most effective method.