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Breeding season, more snow lead to more coyote sightings around Northeast Ohio

02-10-22 COYOTE WARNING.jpg
Posted at 5:46 PM, Feb 10, 2022

WILLOWICK, Ohio — A home surveillance camera caught the moment a surprising guest paid a visit to Katelyn Luptak’s Willowick home Wednesday morning.

“We were brushing our teeth in the morning,” she recalled. “The alarm went off, I check it and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh it’s a coyote.’”

Video captured the coyote on a pathway several yards from the family’s back door.

“Our dog had been out 30 minutes beforehand, going to the bathroom outside, so [we’re] just lucky he wasn’t out there,” said Luptak.

She explained she was more concerned for her neighbor’s smaller dog, as well as children and other pets in the neighborhood. It’s why Luptak, who has a 3-year-old son and is expecting a baby in July, posted the video clip in a neighborhood Facebook group to warn neighbors about the animal’s presence. Others commented that they had also seen coyotes recently.

“I want everyone to keep an eye on their pets and their kids so no one gets hurt,” Luptak said.

According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Management, coyote sightings are relatively common at the beginning of the year. January through March is considered to be coyote breeding season. This year, the weather has created additional challenges for the animals.

“They have a harder time finding food with all the snow and so they're on the move a lot more looking for food and also looking for mates,” said Wildlife Research Technician Laurie Brown.

She explained coyotes are typically afraid of humans and will be frightened away by clapping and loud noises. If they come close to homes and people, it may be because they smelled or saw something.

“I always ask people when they call us, ‘Was there something there that could have attracted the coyote? Was there a food source outside that could have attracted them?’ And that can be anything from a bird feeder to trash to pet food that's been left out,” Brown said.

Though the animals typically prey on small mammals, such as wild birds and mice, Brown said some pets can also be targets for hungry or territorial coyotes. She recommends leashing dogs and staying outside with small pets.

After breeding season, Brown explained coyotes can be aggressive and territorial during pup rearing season, which lasts through May.

The ODNR website lists the following tips if you spot a coyote in your backyard:

  • Understand that coyotes are common throughout Ohio's 88 counties in both rural and urban settings. There are no wild wolves living in Ohio.
  • Identify that the canine is truly a coyote and not a stray dog. If you determine the animal is a stray dog, contact your county dog warden.
  • If you do have a coyote on your property, remove all "attractants" to possibly deter the coyote from returning. This includes removing garbage and pet food before nightfall and cleaning up around the grill. Coyotes prey primarily on small mammals, such as rabbits and mice. Small pets may also be taken. Keep small dogs and cats inside. Coyotes are curious, but generally fearful of humans. Clap your hands and shout in a stern voice to scare off coyotes that are investigating your yard.
  • If the coyote visiting your yard seems to lack a fear of humans or is presenting a conflict even after removing attractants from your yard, contact a nuisance trapper. Coyotes in rural areas can be controlled through legal hunting and trapping methods. See the Hunting & Trapping Regulations for more information.

Cleveland Metroparks tracks coyote sightings in Northeast Ohio. If you spot a coyote, you can report it by clicking on this link.

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