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Concerned about coyotes?

Alex Doty • Apr 28, 2017 at 3:00 PM

Have you seen any coyotes in the woods of Ottawa County? If you have, officials from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources say that wouldn’t be an uncommon sight.

DNR wildlife biologist Nik Kalejs said that there isn’t a single county in Michigan that doesn’t have coyotes.

Coyotes are found throughout the state and have dispersed into southern Michigan without assistance from the DNR. Coyotes are found in rural to urban areas, and are quite common, but they are also extremely good at remaining unnoticed by humans, even while living in close proximity.

Should we be concerned with these four-legged neighbors?

“As far as aggressive behavior toward people, that is not really an issue,” Kalejs said, noting that they can be a nuisance when they are in the area.

Coyotes rarely attack humans, and the DNR notes that bites from snakes, rodents and domestic dogs are a far greater possibility than coyote bites.

“Normally, they are pretty shy,” said Kalejs. “It doesn’t take much to make a coyote get out of sight.”

According to Kalejs, there’s a greater risk to livestock and small pets that are left outdoors.

Coyotes that are fed can become accustomed to people and could present a human safety risk, officials note. People should never intentionally feed or attempt to tame coyotes, and potential sources of food should be kept secure, such as trash containers, pet food and other scraps.

“You really don’t want to habituate any wildlife looking to people for food sources,” Kalejs said.

It is in the best interest of both coyotes and humans if coyotes retain their instinctive fear of people, the DNR notes.

In order to minimize potential conflicts with coyotes, the DNR recommends the following:

— Never approach or touch a coyote.

— Never intentionally feed a coyote.

— Eliminate all outside food sources, especially pet foods.

— Put garbage out the morning of pick-up day.

— Clear out wood and brush piles; they are good habitat for rats and mice, and may attract coyotes.

— Good husbandry practices, guard animals and coyote control measures can help to protect livestock.

— Do not allow pets to roam free when coyotes are present, and consider keeping pets indoors or accompany them outside, especially at night.

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