Dead Coyote Fences: The Story Behind an Archaic Tradition

Posted by Crystal Long
Dead coyotes hang from fenceposts surrounding a ranch.
Adobe Stock (left), Facebook: LD Burns (right)

Deceased coyotes hung on a stretch of fenceposts as far as one can see is an archaic ranchers' tradition. Here's the story behind this old, barbaric custom.

It's quite a horrific sight, and honestly, might be quite disturbing and hands-down unsettling (to put it lightly) for any non-locals or anyone who've seen it for the first time -- but coyote hanging is actually a long-standing ranching tradition that goes back to the mid-1900s.

There are several ideas as to why ranchers started this ancient custom: Some say the row of dead coyotes hanging on a line of fenceposts was to keep coyotes away and off their properties. Others say it's an old practice that farmers and ranchers used to warn others that predators are in the area (especially when the coyote population is high), and some say the practice of hanging coyote carcasses on fenceposts was a "proof of kill" for ranchers who paid a bounty for hunters to kill coyotes on their property. Either way, seeing dead animals is never a pleasant sight.

Dead Coyote Fences

I've been pumping this well for over 10 years and have never seen the person that does this every year. Someone asked for a pic of them the other day, pic didn't do it justice so I shot a video !!!

Posted by LD Burns on Tuesday, March 10, 2015

This sighting of dead coyotes on fences still happens today. In West Texas and Oklahoma, some hunters and trappers still practice this archaic tradition; Some have also reported sightings of this old rancher custom in rural California and other small areas in the United States today, raising shock within animal rights activists and residents, as well as general public everywhere. Such a scene was just seen in 2019 on a wire fence on 26 Mile Road, which is 50 miles east of the famed Yosemite National Park.

However, this old superstition might have adopted a more practical use today: Hunters are hanging coyote pelts on fenceposts because they simply are not worth as much as before. An overabundance of coyote pelts in the recent years have made them quite worthless, leading hunters to hang them on fenceposts.

But however traditional this offensive practice was, today's coyote hanging, luckily, is not as accepted as it once was. I mean seriously, have you tied hanging up a coyote warning sign or something?

Have you seen this coyote "death row" yourself before? Or do you, or anyone you know, does this old tradition? Please tell us in the Facebook comments!

READ MORE: Coyote vs. Fox: How to Tell Them Apart

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Dead Coyote Fences: The Story Behind an Archaic Tradition