If you live in Ohio, coyotes live amongst you. Coyotes call all 88 counties of Ohio home. Coyote breeding season is from January — March and you may notice sightings have been more frequent lately. That’s because coyotes are more active during this time and may be emboldened. They aren’t only on a continuous prowl for food, they are looking for love.
Coyotes are opportunistic omnivores. They prefer small mammals, but will eat fruit, seeds, reptiles, and plants. It’s important to keep small pets like cats and little dogs away from coyotes. They may be viewed as prey. Big dogs may be perceived as a threat and if a male feels his mate is threatened, he may not hesitate to be aggressive.
Traditionally, coyotes roamed rural fields and forests, but as houses, buildings, and roads began to encroach their natural habitat, they have become common in suburban and urban areas like Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland. These highly adaptable animals have learned to survive — and thrive — in almost any habitat.
Last fall, residents of Fairfield asked for city council to do something about the coyotes after multiple pets were killed or injured in the area. Early this month, Brett Beatty, Wildlife Management Supervisor with Ohio DNR, educated a packed Fairfield city council on how to minimize conflicts with coyotes. Beatty stressed the importance of keeping coyotes instinctually afraid of humans.
“You want to provide them with some kind of negative stimulus, and you want them to recognize it,” Beatty said. He suggested using air horns, keeping porch lights on, and not leave pets unattended outside.
While coyote attacks are extremely rare, the video of a recent incident in California where a coyote tried to drag a two-year-old girl off by the leg when she was outside her home has a lot of people rattled. Many people remember three years ago when Columbus police officer, Officer Tripp, checked on a stranded motorist on an exit ramp off I-70. A coyote came out of nowhere and bit him several times. When back-up arrived, the daring coyote came back. A taser was not enough to tame it and it had to be humanely put down.
Don’t underestimate the wily coyote. A fence around your property will not keep a coyote out. They are very good diggers, can climb a chain-link fence using their back feet, can scale walls, and have been seen jumping an 8-foot fence. These all-around athletes can run up to 43 mph and swim well for at least a half mile.
You may not realize it when a coyote is near. Last fall, a Trenton Police Department was called to a home that had an unexpected visitor. Earlier that day, the family left the door open as they packed a vehicle in preparation for a trip. Unbeknownst to them, a coyote slipped in and hid behind the toilet. Several members of the household used the bathroom before the interloper was discovered.
To avoid coyote encounters, make your property or dwelling space undesirable to coyotes. Secure your garbage cans with an animal-proof lid. Bird feeders attract small rodents and birds which may be a perfect area for a coyote to linger. Coyotes aren’t above eating birdseed and can wreak havoc on your feeding station. Use a short leash when taking pets outside and don’t leave them unattended. Don’t leave pet food outside.
Coyotes are shy, but curious. It’s important for them (and us) to be instinctually wary of humans. That’s why it is vital people never try to feed, pet, or tame them. If a coyote gets too close, don’t run. It may trigger its chase instinct. Instead, make eye contact, yell, and wave your arms.
If you come across a coyote unfazed by humans or exhibiting aggressive behavior such as stalking, growling, or chasing, report it to your local authorities or the Ohio DNR.
If you have tips to deter coyotes from getting too close to you or your pets, I’d love to read your advice in the comments!
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