STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. - They’re moving out of the wild and into our communities, so is it time to just accept that coyotes are here to stay?
In Sterling Heights, calls to police have increased because of coyote sightings.
According to the Nature Center in Sterling Heights, coyotes have an important place in the ecosystem. Officials at the center said coyotes are here, whether we like it or not.
Many packed the Nature Center because people are seeing more and more coyotes in and around their neighborhoods.
“I saw them though. I saw a few running around. I saw them in the overflow areas. I saw them walking around,” Chris Dib said.
Dib brought his family to the meeting.
“One of the reasons I’m here is so my kids can understand what it looks like, how it behaves and to stay away from them and keep their distance,” he said.
“They’re not only in Sterling Heights, but they’re all in pretty much every single county in the state of Michigan,” said Sterling Heights Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski.
Local 4’s Anchor Kimberly Gill knows firsthand. She recently saw a coyote behind her Detroit home.
"The one that I saw, it was the middle of the day and it scared the dickens out of me," said Gill.
The Nature Center said coyotes are about 40-60 inches long. They weigh anywhere from 20-46 pounds, and they’re gray to red in color. They are most active at dusk and dawn.
Confronting a coyote
So, what can you do legally if you encounter a coyote? Can you hunt them?
In Sterling Heights, you can’t shoot a gun within the city limits or hunt coyotes, but if attacked by one and you can carry a weapon legally, the police chief said you can defend yourself.
The Nature Center says there are more sightings at sunrise and sunset. Coyotes normally are not out during the day, but it's not unheard of either.
If you run into one, try to make a lot of noise and walk away but don't turn your back to the animal.
Previous coverage of Detroit-area coyotes:
- Coyote spotted roaming streets of Detroit
- Neighbors concerned over coyote den near I-75 and Mack Avenue in Detroit
- Shelby Township family concerned about neighborhood dogs after encounter with coyote at back door
This is from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR):
Coyotes are extremely adaptable and can be found just about everywhere: in forests, fields, farmlands, backyards, neighborhoods and cities. They’ve learned to survive in urban landscapes throughout Michigan. When food sources are available – things like trash bins, bird feeders and pet food – coyotes may become more comfortable around people.
To minimize potential conflicts and protect your small pets, DNR furbearer specialist Adam Bump has a few suggestions.
“The first thing to remember is never to intentionally feed or try to tame a coyote; leave wildlife in the wild,” Bump said. “Remove those appealing food sources, fence off your gardens and fruit trees, clear out wood and brush piles, and accompany your pets outdoors rather than letting them roam free.”
Additionally, there are some hunting and removal options:
Coyote hunting is open year-round. Michigan residents need a valid base license to hunt them. See the current-year Fur Harvester Digest for coyote hunting and trapping regulations.
On private property where coyotes are doing or about to do damage, a property owner or designee can take coyotes year-round; a license or written permit is not needed.
A permitted nuisance control business can assist in the safe removal of problem animals in urban or residential areas.
Get more tips on understanding this species in the Coexisting with Urban Coyotes video or on the DNR’s coyotes webpage. Questions? Contact Hannah Schauer, 517-388-9678.
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