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Seven coyote questions answered for Ohio residents
Whether we humans like it or not, coyotes are here to stay and southwest Ohio is no exception.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife makes it clear that these animals are extremely adaptable, surviving – and even thriving – in most environments, including suburban neighborhoods. Sightings may increase in winter when there’s less foliage and greater contrast against a snowy white backdrop, but they are present and active in all seasons.
While a coyote sighting itself is not necessarily cause for alarm, it is important to understand a few basic facts about these animals.
Where did coyotes come from?
Coyotes in West Chester, Ohio, are not recent arrivals. These wolf-like animals initially lived in the Plains states. As their natural habitat was removed and as apex predators disappeared, coyotes filled the void and moved into the Midwest.
Where do coyotes live?
Coyotes can live for a long time in close proximity to dense human populations without ever being noticed, but some West Chester residents report seeing or hearing these animals regularly. Sightings may increase in fall and early winter when coyotes are actively preparing for the cold weather by scavenging for food and looking for warm places to make their dens.
Coyotes come from the same family as domesticated dogs and they often resemble one another. They are a reddish-grey mottled color with pointed ears, bushy tails in a downward position, and narrow pointed snouts. Coyote prints are relatively small, approximately the size of a large chicken egg. Print patterns are narrow, indicating one paw placed in front of the other.
What do coyotes eat?
Coyotes are omnivores and will eat just about anything that isn't a threat to their well-being. In the wild, they hunt small mammals like mice, rabbits and some nesting birds. In areas where humans are prevalent, coyotes prefer the easiest available meal. Pet food left outside and scraps of food left in unsecured trash cans or near your grill make for easy targets. Even small pets could become prey.
Is my family safe?
Coyote attacks on humans are extremely rare. Small and weakened pets left unattended in the yard may be at risk. Limit time outside for pets, especially during winter evenings when daylight hours are scarce, and be observant. Keep small pets on a leash whenever possible.
How do I get rid of coyotes?
Coexistence is truly the only option. Eradicating coyotes for good is impossible; however, residents can take steps to discourage these animals. Never feed coyotes, whether directly or indirectly. Use motion lights on your property to make your property less attractive to these scavengers. If encountering a coyote, use loud, threatening noises (yell, bang pots together, etc.) until it leaves your yard. Coyotes are less likely to approach if you make it uncomfortable for them.
Can I hunt or trap coyotes in Ohio?
Yes. Hunting and trapping coyotes is permitted within the laws provided in Ohio Revised Code. Coyotes cannot be trapped and re-released, and trapping should be left to professionals. Also, please be aware of laws associated with discharging a firearm in the Township.
It is also important to note that these strategies won't completely eliminate the issue. Coyotes will continue to re-populate their territory.
Visit wildlife.ohiodnr.gov for hunting and trapping regulations or call a licensed professional.
For comprehensive information about coyotes including links to more resources, click: www.westchesteroh.org/residents/wildlife-management-animal-control.