Coyote myths spread after sightings, possible pet attack

Local News
4-10-19 coyote stock photo

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – A coyote possibly attacking a dog in Kettering in March is the most recent example of the canine predator blurring the lines between nature and the safety of a neighborhood. 

With this recent attack and sightings of the animal peaking because of its annual mating season, coyotes have been a point of discussion on Ohio message boards, reddit and social media.  

It has also lead people searching the internet for more information on the animal that isn’t accurate.  

One common source of misunderstanding is the Eastern Coyote, a supposed sub-species of the coyote that’s a hybrid of coyote, wolf and domestic canine.  

Before panic sets in over hybrid coyote/wolves lurking Ohio, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife has a more reassuring explanation – the animal is “a mutt.” 

“It’s primarily a genetic coyote with some dog and wolf,” District 5 Wildlife Management Supervisor Brett Beatty said. “It depends from canine to canine how much of the other animal is mixed in, but the majority genetic percentage is coyote.” 

Beatty said visually they look similar, with the Eastern Coyote sometimes larger due to environmental conditions. But that happens within the same breed and species of animals regularly. Deer in Florida, as Beatty said, are much smaller than deer found in Saskatchewan because of the harsher environment in Canada.  

“Coyotes in Ohio are majority coyotes,” Beatty said. “They are the same as the coyotes we see out west with maybe some mixing with domestic canine and wolves, but their behavior is the same as the western coyotes. They’re slightly larger, but you would have to have two together to notice a difference. The animal just adapted to the eastern environment.” 

WHAT TO KNOW: COYOTES 

  • Their shyness toward humans has been overrated as the animal adapted to people. If you see a coyote near you; make loud noises, clap, scream and show as much negative attention as you can until it turns away. Any negative feedback you can give the better, you want the coyote to turn away and have a negative reaction to the area. 
  • Don’t leave food out for wildlife. “If you want a birdfeeder to attract songbirds, that’s one thing,” Beatty said. “But there’s no reason at all to feed any wildlife. Coyote attacks on people are extremely rare, but when they happen, it’s usually if there’s been food left outside.” 
  • If you feed your own animals outside, make sure to bring in any food after they have finished.  
  • Just because you live in an urban area or subdivision doesn’t mean you won’t see coyotes. Most subdivisions have green areas, that’s often enough for a coyote to make a den or at least come into the area and see what food is available.  
  • The first Ohio coyote sighting was in 1919. The animal started moving into the state in the 1940s.  
  • The animal’s ability to adapt to almost any environment has impressed wildlife experts. Coyotes live as far north as Alaska and south into Mexico.  
  • Hunting and trapping season for coyotes is all year. Hunters don’t need a tag to shoot a coyote, and hunters can use any centerfire rifle. The always open season was to allow farmers and people in rural areas to protect their property and any livestock.  
  • Coyotes present problems, but they have also moved into Ohio to fulfill a crucial need in the food chain. “They are demonized, but they aren’t good or bad, they’re just going about their business,” Beatty said “There were no predators to take out small mammals in the state and they fill that niche. They also eat carrion and roadkill.”  

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