By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
It’s that time of year, when Bowling Green Police Division gets calls about wily coyotes being spotted in some city neighborhoods.
The rule of thumb is this – don’t worry, coyotes are much more fearful of humans and are likely to skidaddle at the least warning from people.
“People have seen them in their neighborhoods,” primarily on the north side of the city and in the area around Wintergarden Park, Police Chief Tony Hetrick said.
“It’s normal to see them, and they’re not normally a threat,” Hetrick said.
Hetrick recalled his first coyote sighting in Bowling Green when he was working a midnight shift 12 years ago, and a coyote ran in front of his patrol car on Poe Road.
“They do range freely in Wood County,” he said. “There are probably a lot more than people realize because they are so good at hiding.”
The police division is asking that city residents only call to report a coyote sighting if it is threatening or in the very, very rare incident of a pet being attacked.
“They are nothing to be alarmed about,” Hetrick said. “They are pretty afraid of people.”
Quite often, coyotes are mistaken for dogs – and vice versa. Coyotes are slender animals, very similar in appearance to medium-sized dogs and much smaller than wolves, a species not currently found in Ohio.
The majority of coyotes are gray, though some show a rusty, brown or off-white coloration.They have bushy tails which are usually tipped with black. Coyotes are most active at dawn and dusk, but may be seen frequently throughout the day.
According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, with dropping temperatures comes increased coyote activity in Ohio. Coyote activity builds in January and continues through March due to breeding season.
During the months of April and May, coyotes tend to actively protect their litters as well, which could lead to potential conflicts with humans and pets. Keeping the following guidelines in mind when you encounter a coyote will help to prevent or reduce problems.
- Understand that coyotes are established in all of Ohio’s 88 counties and are regularly spotted within city limits. Read more about coyotes at wildohio.gov.
- If you spot a coyote on your property, make sure to remove all “attractants” to deter the coyote from returning. “Stash your trash” by properly securing garbage and removing outside pet food primarily before nightfall. Remember to clean up around the grill as well. Do not feed coyotes directly.
- Typical foods consumed by coyotes include small mammals (voles, shrews, rabbits, mice), plant matter, nuts, and dead animals such as road-kill. However, interactions with domestic pets do occur sometimes. Keep small dogs and cats inside (especially at night) or on a six-foot leash when outside. Retractable leashes are of little help since it is very difficult to reel a dog back if it is far ahead. Coyotes may attack dogs in defense of themselves or their territory, so keeping control of domestic dogs is crucial for a pet’s safety.
- Occasionally, an inquisitive coyote will stay put and watch you curiously. Make noise. Clap your hands, stomp your feet, and shout; the coyote will likely move on at this point. If it doesn’t, pop an umbrella open and closed, toss rocks in its direction, or use a noise maker. A coyote that loses its fear of humans can potentially become a threat.
- If a coyote visiting your yard does not respond to harassment techniques such as loud noises or it is presenting a conflict even after attractants are removed, contact a licensed nuisance trapper. Nuisance trappers use highly-regulated techniques to target individual animals consequently reducing urban wildlife conflicts. Coyote populations in rural areas can be managed through legal hunting and trapping methods. Consult the yearly “Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations” digest for more information.