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Author: Subject: Front page of our paper today
Henrietta Hillbilly
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[*] posted on 19-6-2018 at 12:34 AM
Front page of our paper today


Morning Journal

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Coyotes in Northeast Ohio: Hiding in plain sight
By: Briana Contreras (bcontreras@morningjournal.com) and Chad Felton (cfelton@News-Herald.com)

POSTED: Sunday, June 17, 2018 - 7:00 p.m.
UPDATED: A DAY AGO


Eastern coyote (Courtesy of US Fish and Wildlife Service)
Black bears creeping into backyards and residential settings may have garnered their fair share of attention recently, but local wildlife experts say a much smaller, wily predator has always been present in the state of Ohio - the coyote.

Coyotes, primarily eastern coyotes, are prevalent in all 88 counties and can thrive in a variety of diverse environments, said Jonathon D. Cepek, wildlife ecologist for Cleveland Metroparks.

"From deserts to downtowns, coyotes have a flexibility that allows them to adapt to numerous areas. They haven't just been surviving all these years, they've been thriving. They began showing up in the late '80s and early '90s. They're everywhere from Alaska to Chicago to Central America. The reason you may not see them frequently is based on the fact that, while curious, they are generally fearful of human beings. Very rarely does a conflict take place between a human and a coyote. I've seen more incidents with off-leash dogs.

"Typically, attractants like pet food, bird feeders, loose pets, exposed garbage and threatening behavior to their territory and their young, lead to incidents," Cepek said. "So many resources bring in smaller creatures, like chipmunks, squirrels, small birds and mice that coyotes will eat. That's why they end up in backyards or urban areas. Their diet is so flexible, too, that they seek out these things and enter different environs."

An average male coyote is about the size of a medium-sized dog, about 37 pounds, with adult females weighing about 32 pounds. Though small, and not overly aggressive, coyotes are still wild animals and should not be approached. Clapping, yelling and waving scares them off.


"Their behavior changes when people aren't around," Cepek said. "It's an ecology that's interesting. They are predators and we have an innate apprehension when it comes to coyotes, but we also provide the resources which bring them closer to us and our homes. It's important to have a healthy respect for wildlife."

Another misconception about coyotes is the noise they're famous for. When a coyote yips, barks or howls, more often than not, it's a single mammal communicating, not a pack of wild beasts seeking out human victims.

And, despite phone calls received to the contrary, especially in the winter, there are not wild wolves in Ohio, Cepek noted.

Like Cleveland Metroparks, the Geauga Park District has conducted basic calling and camera surveys over the years, documenting coyotes in every single one of its parks.

"They are very common and serve an important role as a mid-sized mesopredator," said Geauga Park District Biologist Paul Pira. "I have spent many, many days working outside in the field, often in more remote areas of our parks, and have never had an issue with coyotes. I have run into these animals many times, though, and they are usually just as startled as I am and very quickly run away.

"The only times that I know of that Geauga Park District has had human/coyote issues is when park patrons do not obey leash laws and let their pets wander to close to denning coyotes," Pira added. "Coyotes are great parents and will protect their pups and dens."

Perception, Pira noted, is also key, as a coyote barking at someone or following them at a distance is just letting a person know they are in their territory and may be getting a little too close to their home.

"They are certainly not stalking park visitors as prey," Pira said. "Coyotes are highly intelligent and fascinating animals which go completely unnoticed by most park patrons. If people educate themselves about these animals many potential real and perceived (by humans) problems will be avoided. Education is the key."

Jamey Emmert, a spokesperson of District 3's Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife, which focuses on Lorain County and 18 other surrounding counties in Northeast Ohio, said coyotes are the largest wild canid in the Buckeye State.

"While many people regularly voice their concerns to me about humans encroaching on wildlife populations and habitat, this species is not one that falls into a category of suffering due to urban sprawl. In fact, coyotes have proven across the country that no matter how much they are hunted and removed by nuisance trappers, their presence still prevails. It's quite fascinating."

The ODNR Division of Wildlife has never conducted a sophisticated survey in order to find out how many coyotes live in Ohio, detailing that it would be very challenging. Factors such as funding and manpower, Emmert said, preclude this type of pursuit.

"Coyote populations are maintaining since most territories are most likely saturated, with few exceptions. If a coyote dies, another will quickly take over its territory.

"With reports from hunters, trappers and wildlife watchers, plus trail camera pictures submitted to us online (wildohio.gov), and info gathered from our roadkill surveys, we know they're common statewide," Emmert said. "Without other predators besides humans, biological limits, like weather, or a disease outbreak of some kind, their populations have no reason to fall."

Coyotes in rural areas can be controlled through legal hunting and trapping methods, according to ODNR. Consult the annual "Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations" booklet, call 1-800-WILDLIFE or visit www.wildohio.com for more information.






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