Coyotes are here, know and understand them

Local animal control officers receive calls weekly about the coyotes and other wildlife.

We all need to educate ourselves about these animals. 

Let’s start by understanding that coyotes as well as all native wildlife in the state of Michigan are regulated by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The State of Michigan DNR allows wildlife to be trapped or killed only if that animal is doing or is about to do property damage. 

A state of Michigan permit and/or license through the DNR are required for taking any Wildlife. Citizens are encouraged to check out the following website for additional information.

As with any of our native wildlife, coyotes are here to stay. 

Coyotes as well as all of our wildlife have always been a resident of our area. They have learned to adapt to us and now we need to learn to understand them and also adapt. The goal is to minimize encounters and to control any wildlife that is doing damage to personal property.

As with any of our wildlife, citizens have many fears that come from false information.

The following is information that can help stop those fears and control encounters with all wildlife including the coyotes.

Coyote Facts: Coyotes weigh between 15-45 pounds, but look large because of their bushy fur. Coyotes mating season begins early spring. Coyotes live in family packs, which consist of a breeding pair and may include older offspring. A family pack will control its own population by chasing off other coyotes. Coyotes communicate with howling, yelping, barking or huffing.

Their diet consists of small mammals, insects, reptiles, fruit and carrion. 

A recent study showed that on average a coyote’s diet is 78 percent rodents, 26 percent berries, 27 percent rabbits, 12 percent raccoons, 10 percent deer and less than two percent of human food. 

Citizens should be taking steps to help limit encounters with all wildlife and coyotes. The largest problems that animal control sees with the fact of wildlife moving in and more encounters with humans are the following:

• Citizens must stop feeding pets outside. Leftover pet food or the smell of pet food will attract Coyotes and many other wildlife like skunks, raccoons and rats.

• Do not overfeed the birds. Bird seed attracts small animals, which in turn attract the coyotes. Also, bird seed is a large attraction for skunks.

• Keep garbage in tight fitting containers. Coyotes and all other wildlife love human garbage. It makes for a tasty and easier meal.

• Coyotes love compost and wood piles. Enclose or remove compost and wood piles from your yard.

• Keep your yard clean of debris. Trash and debris create homes for small mammals that coyotes and other wildlife hunt.

• Keep your grass cut and trees and shrubs cut back. Sighting of coyotes and many other wildlife comes mostly from yards that have a lot of trees and shrubs. Overgrown yards are good cover for the animals as they feel safe and secure.

• Keep all cats indoors. Feeding cats outside not only attracts all wildlife but it can become a health risk for other pets and humans.

• Keep your pets from running at large and make sure they are spayed or neutered and up to date on shots. Female dogs not spayed will attract coyotes. Also keeping your pet up to date on shots helps keep them healthy.