According to our readers on Facebook, coyotes are being spotted all over the tri-county area.
Chestnut Grove. Sullivan Lake in Livingston County. Rose Center Road. Riverside Drive in Holly Township. South Holly Road. Lobdell Road. Byram Lake Park. These are just a few of the roads readers mentioned when asked where they had seen the animals.
Holly Vaughn, public outreach and engagement unit manager of the Wildlife Division of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), said coyote sightings usually increase this time of year.
“This year appears to be on par with years past. We get many calls annually from folks that are concerned about coyotes they are seeing on their properties. January/February is when folks are more likely to see and hear coyotes as they are mating and setting up breeding territories,” she said.
Coyotes in rural and urban areas are common in Michigan, she said. They’re extremely good at going unnoticed by humans.
“Their presence in subdivisions and urban or suburban areas, while surprising to many folks, is a result of increasing populations (both coyote and human) and encroachment of human environments into their natural habitat (from development of rural areas). This member of the dog family is extremely adaptable and survives in virtually all habitat types common in Michigan. They are most abundant in areas where adequate food, cover, and water are available,” she said.
Removing food sources will encourage the coyote to leave and making loud noises will scare them away. Vaughn said coyotes rarely attack humans.
“Bites from snakes, rodents, and domestic dogs are a far greater possibility than coyote bites, according to public health authorities. However, coyotes that are fed become accustomed to people and present a human safety risk. People should never intentionally feed or attempt to tame coyotes,” she said.
It’s best if coyotes retain their instinctive fear of people. Vaughn recommends the following to minimize potential conflicts with coyotes: never approach or touch a coyote; never intentionally feed a coyote; eliminate all outside food sources, especially pet foods and bird feeders; put garbage out the morning of pickup day; clear out wood and brush piles — they are good habitat for rats and mice and may attract coyotes.
Vaughn also recommends that if you see a coyote, “yell, clap your hands, bang pots and pans, in general make a lot of noise to scare away the coyote and let it know that this is your space and you don’t want it there.”
Pet safety in winter
Don’t let your pet roam free outside when coyotes are present.
Paul Wallace, director of Genesee County Animal Control, said “… Coyotes are everywhere and this is their mating season; they’re unusually active this time of year. We tell folks to keep their pets close, especially smaller dogs and cats. ‘Yotes are out even during the day right now.”