Psychedelic Song Dogs

By author of The Duck Blog

Could Magic Mushrooms Be Behind Coyote Attacks?

Some have suggested that hallucinogenic mushrooms might be to blame for aggressive coyote behavior in northern California. © Angel DiBilio/ShutterstockOnly in California.

At least that’s the reaction from some folks after hearing that recent coyote “attacks” on vehicles in the San Francisco Bay area could be caused by animals having psychedelic experiences from hallucinogenic mushrooms.

According to an article at, coyotes in the West Marin, Calif., area have been staring down drivers traveling along a twisting section of Highway 1, forcing motorists to stop and then sniffing around the vehicle.

“It is possible, but not probable, that the coyote has eaten something — perhaps a fly agaric mushroom (Amanita muscaria), which has hallucinogenic properties — and has subsequently been tripping its tail off,” the report said. “The cars would therefore be some sort of coyote vision, a dark vision of human interlopers, who must be stopped before the rents get any higher in West Marin. That would be kind of cool.”

The fly agaric mushroom, which is classified as poisonous, contains the psychoactive compound muscimol and is noted for its hallucinogenic effects. Lisa Bloch, director of marketing and communications for the Marin Humane Society, told reporters she had been counseling dog owners recently about the dangers of poisonous mushrooms.

The report also lists two more plausible explanations for the aggressive coyote behavior: rabies (unlikely) and humans feeding coyotes (likely).

“One possibility is that the coyote has been fed, and this is a real problem for us in Marin,” Bloch said in the story. “It’s possible that someone was feeding him and thinking that it’s cool, and magical and mystical to have a coyote eating out of his hand.”

The article then offers this advice: “The message is: Don’t feed the freaking coyotes.”

That would be wise, as biologists estimate that up to 750,000 coyotes inhabit the Golden State.