The City of Delaware held a meeting last night at the YMCA to inform residents about the influx of coyotes into the area. There was so much interest that the Community Room was filled to overflowing with people needing to sit on the floor in the aisle and standing outside the room.
The meeting was led by Marne Titchenell, Extension Specialist for OSU. She did a great job while answering questions during her presentations. She covered such subjects as (1) appearance, (2) habitat & habits, (3) preferred food and (4) recommendations for residents.
- They’re the size of a medium-sized dog, around 30-40 lbs.
- Their coat may resemble that of a wolf (none in Ohio) or a German Shepherd dog.
- Coyotes carry their tail downward unlike a dog who usually carries their tail upward, especially when running.
- Their eyes are more yellow-gold unlike a dog which usually has dark brown eyes.
- They tend to avoid humans yet may live within human’s area, staying concealed within brush, woods, thickets.
- They are territorial and one family will stay within their marked area. They mate for life. A litter can be 3-11 pups but this seems to depend on availability of food.
- Much of their hunting is done after dark, especially in urban areas.
- Breeding season is Jan-Mar and they may be somewhat more aggressive during this period.
- Rabies does not seem to be a problem in the species.
- They primarily hunt for small mammals: voles, rabbits, mice/rats, chipmunks. They may feed on road-kill deer or new-born fawns. Their removal of rats can be very beneficial to humans.
- In urban areas, they’ll eat the food we leave behind like hamburgers & fries. Outside dog food is an attractant.
- Research has shown that while they will kill cats, they don’t seem to eat them. Outside cats seem to be viewed as a competitor for the food supply of voles and mice.
- They have been known to kill small dogs and to eat the dogs. Apparently dogs taste better than cats.
Recommendations for residents
- Minimize a food source near your home. Eliminate outdoor pet food. Bird feeders may attract underground voles which can attract the coyotes.
- Don’t allow cats outside to roam. Keep a close eye on small dogs when let out in the evening. If walking a small dog on a leash in the evening, keep it on a short leash near you.
- If they repeatedly come into your yard, make a ‘noise’ container by filling a pop can with pennies, bolts or other similar metal pieces. Then shake the can to make a racket which will scare them away. Yelling and waving your arms will also do the trick.
- Remember they can be beneficial by ridding an area of rats and mice, but don’t take special steps to bring them into your yard.
During the 18 months that I lived in Tucson, coyotes were merely a fact of life. Every evening while sitting on my patio, I could hear their howlings as they gathered for their nightly hunt. It was fitting for the surroundings as were the nasty, smelly javelinas. I didn’t worry about my the two Dobermans I had then, as they were much bigger than the coyotes. As for The Murph, I’m glad he has the benefit of a fence when he goes out at night.