Community Guide - Wildlife ManagementWildlife Management on Private PropertyLike most communities in the region, West Chester Township has a large population of deer, fox, raccoons, hawks, owls, coyote and other wildlife which can present conflicts with property owners. West Chester works with The Ohio Department of Natural Resources and other wildlife experts to support residents with their wildlife conflicts and inform them of actions they can take to address wildlife issues on their property.
The Division of Wildlife recommends many techniques for discouraging wildlife interaction with humans. The most basic of these are:
- Don't leave pet food outdoors or accessible from the outdoors on a screened porch
- Keep yards well lighted, especially if your yard is used by a household pet
- Monitor household pets when they are outdoors, especially at night
- Attracting birds to your yard may make for enjoyable viewing, but attracting birds may also attract predators that see them as a food source
- Do not approach a wild animal, even if they appear injured or sick
- Discourage wildlife approaching your property by throwing rocks or making loud noises from a safe distance. Most animals would not approach if they felt threatened
Coyotes – What do I need to know?
The average coyote is 30 to 40 pounds, has pointed upright ears and a pointed snout. His tail is typically down and he walks in a loping fashion. October and April are coyotes most active months due to their mating cycles.
Studies show coyotes can live for a long time in close proximity to dense human settlements without ever being noticed. Coyotes remain in areas where there is a ready food source. They are highly adaptable which has promoted their survivability in developed suburban and even urban areas. Coyotes prefer areas with plenty of cover from trees and shrubs. In the spring, when coyotes give birth and begin to raise litters, they concentrate their activities around dens or burrows in which the young are sheltered. At these times, they may become highly defensive and territorial and challenge any other coyote or dog that comes close to the pups.
Coyotes are omnivores meaning they eat what is available to them. They are adaptive and opportunistic hunters. The typical coyote food source is small mammals such as rabbit, voles, shrews and mice, and they will eat fruits, grasses, vegetables, insects and carrion. They are also attracted to food found in dumpsters, garbage cans and bird feeders. Coyotes are typically night-time hunters, but in a secure environment they will hunt during daylight. Coyotes who have adapted to urban and suburban environments realize there are few real threats and may approach people or feel safe visiting yards even when people are present. These coyotes have become habituated (lost their fear of humans).
Domestic cats and dogs are not necessarily seen as a food source, but rather a threat to coyote's territory. Dogs (especially small dogs) and loose cats are vulnerable to confrontations with those coyotes who are either accustomed (habituated) to people (usually due to wildlife feeding), or coyotes who are protecting their territory. Coyotes are extremely territorial. They protect their food, their mate (they mate for life), and their young. They scent mark their territories and most often do not cross into another coyote's territory. Unattended pets are no different to coyotes than any other animal in their territory. Without human protection, pets could be treated as potential prey or as competition for resources.
Over the Years
In recent times, West Chester residents have experienced increasing confrontational interactions with urban coyotes; however there have been no reports of coyote attacks on humans. While there are many coyotes in the region, wildlife experts maintain it is most likely just a few coyotes who have adopted these "learned behaviors." Some coyotes roam freely during daylight hours and approach homes where there is a potential food source.
Experts at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources indicate education is critical to understanding these animals. Just a few residents providing food outdoors for squirrels or other small mammals provides the coyote with a readily available food source and attracts them to residential properties.
Coyotes cannot be eradicated from an area. Any coyotes removed will be quickly replaced by new coyotes. There are always coyotes on the periphery waiting to move into a newly vacated territory. In areas where there have been reductions in the coyote population due to human efforts, coyotes typically increase their litter size until the population is again brought to a level the habitat can sustain.
Preventing Coyote Confrontations
It is strongly recommended if coyotes are seen or heard in your area that pets and children be carefully monitored. Educate your children about coyotes and instruct them to never approach any wild animal, even if it appears sick or injured. Homeowners whose property is adjacent to wooded areas should monitor the tree lines and monitor household pets carefully when outdoors, especially in the early morning and evening hours. Making loud noises and even throwing things at the animal from a distance will discourage its approach in most cases, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Confrontations with coyotes can be avoided by taking simple precautions or by altering behaviors to avoid confrontation. Most human and coyote interaction occurs as a result of people intentionally or unintentionally feeding wildlife.
Basic steps to ensure pet and child safety:
- Teach children not to approach or feed ANY strange animal
- Small children should not be left unattended outside
- Carry a walking stick, noisemaker, or pepper spray at night or during the early morning if walking with pets
- Keep pets on a leash. Coyotes are less likely to approach a pet if it is in close proximity to a person
- Check your yard before letting pets outdoors
- Go outdoors with small dogs, especially after dark
- Keep cats indoors, especially after dark
- Change your routines; coyotes learn neighborhood habits (ex. don't let the dog out every morning at 5 a.m.).
- Call the police or animal control officer if you see a coyote acting aggressively
Basic steps to remove coyote attractants:
- Avoid feeding pets outside. If you must, feed them only for a set time during the day and remove the food bowl as soon as your pet has finished its meal
- Remove water bowls set outside for pets and birdbaths. In dry conditions, water can be as alluring as food
- Use enclosed bins and never compost meat or fish scraps
- Remove fallen fruit from the ground
- Keep trash in high-quality containers with tight-fitting lids
- Yell and wave arms
- Use noisemakers such as voice, whistles, air horns, bells, soda cans filled with pennies, pots and pans banged together
- Use projectiles: sticks, small rocks, cans, tennis ball, rubber balls
- Use other devices such as hoses, water guns with vinegar, spray bottles with vinegar water, pepper spray, bear repellant, walking sticks
- NEVER ignore, turn your back on, or run from a coyote
- Maintain eye contact with the coyote when using deterrent measures
- Make yourself visible as the source of harassment or potential danger when deterring a coyote,
- Increase intensity of deterrent activity until the coyote leaves your area
- Do not leave until the coyote is out of sight
- Repeat deterrent activity until the coyote leaves for good, usually after two or three times
Wildlife experts do not recommend this type of activity if a coyote is injured, sick or has become cornered; in these situations, coyotes may act unpredictably.
Keep yourself safe. Some people are fearful of wildlife and are uncomfortable with interaction. If a resident feels personally threatened by any wild animal or public safety is at issue, the police should be notified.
Trapping and Hunting
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources endorses trapping as one of the most effective means of eliminating nuisance coyotes. Wildlife experts caution property owners that expertise is required to trap a coyote effectively and to avoid injury to neighborhood children and pets. They encourage property owners to hire qualified, licensed trappers.
Experienced trappers can be found through the internet and phone directory or through The Ohio Department of Natural Resources at (937) 372-5639, ext. 5207. Remember: coyotes will not be completely eliminated from the area through trapping or any other means.
Coyote can be hunted anytime on your own private property with the appropriate licenses and permits. The West Chester Police Department, however, enforces Ohio Revised Code 2923.162 with regard to discharging of a firearm and does not condone the use of a firearm in a residential community.
Wildlife Management on Public Property
West Chester Township employs several approved techniques for the management of wildlife in Township parks. These efforts are focused primarily on geese, beaver and muskrat populations, although other species are monitored through reports from the general public.
West Chester Township park crews are trained and certified in the management of the geese population through the shaking and drilling of unhatched eggs. With an extensive population of geese in our parks, this is an effort that has been met with limited success. New approaches are regularly taken. In the development of water features in our parks, West Chester Township also carefully implements accepted design features that impact the geese population.
The beaver and muskrat population in West Chester has been limited to isolated areas. When these animals negatively impact storm water management on Township property, however, West Chester has employed the service of trappers. The primary means of controlling this species, however, has been the implementation of water control devices that can be easily manipulated to discourage beaver habitation where the effects can be adverse