Other than starring in a supporting role as the beleaguered and comical adversary of the Road Runner, the coyote does not get a lot of publicity. That’s been changing, though. Both locally and nationally, coyotes are attracting attention and concern because they are being spotted more frequently in rural, suburban and urban areas.
Other than starring in a supporting role as the beleaguered and comical adversary of the Road Runner, the coyote does not get a lot of publicity.
That’s been changing, though. Both locally and nationally, coyotes are attracting attention and concern because they are being spotted more frequently in rural, suburban and urban areas.
No longer are they simply creatures of the deep wilderness. Bikers and hikers may see them on occasion at parks in the region, including Stark County.
Earlier this month, a North Canton resident told police she spotted a “wolf-like animal” in the Dogwood Park area. The animal was trying to get in a fenced-in ball park area where geese were located, police reported.
Several officers responded and searched the park area, including woods, but did not find the animal. The animal may have been a large dog or coyote, the news release said.
Coyotes have been spotted a few times in the city limits, the release said, citing safety concerns.
In April, following breeding season, there’s a higher chance for conflict between coyotes and people if a human gets near a den where a coyote is caring for pups.
So are coyotes to be feared by humans? What do they look like? Can they be confused for a dog or other animal? What do they eat? Do they attack cats and dogs?
Here’s a look.
According to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, the coyote is revered by American Indians who tell tales of the creature as the Supreme Being, noted for its smarts and trickiness.
Sheep ranchers, meanwhile, are less admiring because the wild animal preys on livestock. Other farmers are more tolerant because coyotes reduce the rodent populations, according to the national park. No longer is the animal native to the desert and great plains, dispersing across the continent. Coyotes have been known to exist in Yellowstone National Park, Los Angeles and Central Park in New York.
COYOTES IN OHIO
The coyote is not native to Ohio, but is present in all 88 counties, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Prior to the early 1900s, coyotes were sparse in the East. The state’s first coyote sighting was in 1919, according to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Since then, the animal gradually has spread throughout the state.
Do not confuse coyotes with wild wolves, which do not live in Ohio, according to the ODNR.
IF YOU SPOT ONE
1. Make sure the coyote is truly a coyote and not a stray dog. If it’s a stray dog, call the county dog warden.
2. If there’s a coyote on your property, remove all “attractants” to deter the coyote from returning. Remove garbage and pet food outside before nightfall and regularly clean outdoor grills. Birdseed also can lure coyotes, said Jamey Emmert, a spokeswoman with the ODNR’s Division of Wildlife.
Page 2 of 3 - 3. Coyotes prey mainly on small mammals such as rabbits and mice. Small pets also may fall victim. Keep cats and small dogs inside or stay with them at night when coyotes are most active.
4. Coyotes are curious. Clap your hands and shout to scare off coyotes. Other ways to intimidate the animals include throwing rocks or spraying them with a water hose.
“Coyotes are not terribly fearful of humans,” Emmert said. But they “are not prone to attacking humans.”
Making noise may not always work, she noted. As coyotes become more comfortable with the presence of humans they will be less fearful.
Coyote conflicts with both pets and humans often intensifies in April and May when adult coyotes are protecting their young, according to the CVNP. Rabies can be a contributing factor to coyote attacks, Emmert said.” A healthy coyote would not attack unprovoked,” she said.
5. If the coyote in your yard seems to not fear humans or still shows up after removing things that may attract it, contact a nuisance trapper. Locate a trapper in your area by calling the ODNR’s Division of Wildlife at 1-800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).
6. Coyotes in rural areas can be controlled through legal hunting and trapping methods. For more information, visit www.wildohio.com.
Coyotes can adapt and exploit almost any habitat to its advantage, including forests, woods, old fields, brushy hill areas. “Love it or hate it, the coyote has the ability to make the best of a bad situation to survive or even prosper,” the ODNR says on its website.
Mating occurs between late January and March. A litter of about six young are born about two months later. Both adults hunt for food and feed the young. At about age 3, the young leave the den under the watch of the adults, according to the ODNR.
• Coyotes are small, but they are the largest of the three members of the dog family found in Ohio, including the gray fox and red fox. Most coyotes are gray; some are rusty-brown or off-white, and others are yellowish-gray to reddish to almost black. Coyotes have a bushy, black-tipped tail.The animal is 1 to 2 feet high at the shoulder, 3 to 4 feet long, plus the tail, weighing 25 to 45 pounds. They have an elongated snout and dark fur on their lower forelegs and move with their tails pointed down.
• They are most active at dawn and dusk, but frequently may be seen throughout the day.
• Coyotes eat a variety of food, including small mammals, insects, fruits and berries, grains, carrion, nuts and items meant for pets and humans.
Coyotes returned to the Cuyahoga Valley naturally after a long absence, according to the National Park Service.
Page 3 of 3 - A definite number is not available, but recent surveys estimate that 100 to 150 coyotes are living in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Beginning in 1993, the park has estimated this population by playing recorded coyote calls to elicit a response from other coyotes.
Research is being done on coyotes, including by Metro Parks, Serving Summit County in conjunction with wildlife biologists at the University of Akron, Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Wild4Ever, a nonprofit conversation foundation. Other support comes from Ohio State University and Cleveland Metroparks.
“There’s a lot we don’t know because they tend to be so elusive,” said Jamey Emmert of ODNR.
The research is in its third year. Eight coyotes are being monitored with GPS technology and four with VHF telemetry. The GPS collars, first deployed in fall 2010, acquire data on each coyote’s location. A cellphone chip inside the collar sends a text message to a base station, where biologists can monitor the whereabouts daily.
Mike Johnson, chief of resource management for Metro Parks in Summit County, said the study focuses on how coyotes interact with people in parks in the Akron area.
“We have had really relatively few problems with the coyote,” he said of interaction with humans.
The project is wrapping up. Results will be shared in the fall and a short documentary on the research may be posted on the Summit park system’s website, Johnson said.
Sources: Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Metro Parks, Serving Summit County