The coyote is highly versatile in its choice of food, but is primarily carnivorous, with 90% of its diet consisting of animal matter. Prey species include bison, deer, sheep, rabbits, rodents, birds, amphibians (except toads), lizards, snakes, fish, crustaceans, and insects. Coyotes may be picky over the prey they target, as animals such as shrews, moles, and brown rats do not occur in their diet in proportion to their numbers. More unusual prey include fishers, young black bears, harp seals and rattlesnakes. Coyotes kill rattlesnakes mostly for food (but also to protect their pups at their dens) by teasing the snakes until they stretch out and then biting their heads and snapping and shaking the snakes. In Death Valley, coyotes may consume great quantities of hawkmoth caterpillars or beetles in the spring flowering months. Although coyotes prefer fresh meat, they will scavenge when the opportunity presents itself. Excluding the insects, fruit, and grass eaten, the coyote requires an estimated 600 g of food daily, or 250 kg annually. The coyote readily cannibalizes the carcasses of conspecifics, with coyote fat having been successfully used by coyote hunters as a lure or poisoned bait. The coyote's winter diet consists mainly of large ungulate carcasses, with very little vegetable matter. Rodent prey increases in importance during the spring, summer, and fall.
The coyote feeds on a variety of different fruits, including blackberries, blueberries, peaches, pears, apples, prickly pears, chapotes, persimmons, and peanuts. Other vegetable foods include watermelon, cantaloupe, and carrots. During the winter and early spring, the coyote eats large quantities of grass, such as green wheat blades. It sometimes eats unusual items such as cotton cake, soybean meal, domestic animal droppings, and cultivated grain such as corn, wheat, and sorghum, and beans.
Yes, they will take pets, sick or dying deer and young animals and birds on occasion. In urban and rural areas, road kill comprises a great deal of easily obtained food for the coyote and is on the top of their list as well as fruits and berries.
Some WMA's and Wildlife Refuges strictly control the hunting of coyotes because the coyote's impact is so minimal on the environment, that special regulations to control them are not warranted.
As far as hunting them at night even on private land is likely not to ever happen. For many reasons.
And Mr. Dane; I do talk to a biologist on quite a regular basis. FYI