Howl of the coyotes the buzz in northern Kentucky

COVINGTON, Ky. — Vincent Niceley isn’t shaken when he sees a coyote. It’s a common occurrence, he said.

“I work third (shift) in the Pioneer Park area,” the Elsmere resident said. “You can see them often. I have had to stop on 3L (Ky. 17) before because they are chasing rabbits out onto the road.”

But in the fall, it’s a little chilling to hear their howls.

“In the fall, they get more vocal with their howls and calls. It is then when you can hear them that you realize just how many there are in that area,” Niceley said. “You can hear them call from Pioneer Park, Doe Run Lake, the Kenton County Animal Shelter and the hills north between Eaton Concrete and Club Chef. They are thriving in those woods areas.”

And it’s becoming more and more common, according to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, for coyotes to venture from the woods into urban and suburban areas.

Union resident Linda Engelbrink spotted a coyote on her way into work downtown Cincinnati just a few weeks ago. She saw it in the morning, crossing Dixie Highway by (the now closed) Stein Mart in Fort Wright going into the new Krumpelman neighborhood.

“It didn’t really frighten me as it is all a part of nature,” she said. “People should be aware, however, that they are in their neighborhoods and take necessary precautions to keep pets and children secure.

According to a recent article in Kentucky Afield magazine, the official publication of the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, reports of coyote sightings in residential areas increase in the spring and early summer as coyotes breed and give birth to pups.

Laura Palmer, furbearer biologist with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, said having a basic understanding of these wild animals, which can range in color from reddish to tan to grizzled gray and black, can ease concerns and limit potential conflicts.

“Coyotes are often misunderstood,” Palmer told Kentucky Afield. “Most do not bother people. Many times, people do not even know coyotes are living near their homes.”

When living in close proximity to people, coyotes are typically more active from dusk to dawn. Even in populated areas, she said, nature typically provides food like mice, deer, voles, rabbits, raccoons, fruit and goose eggs.

“Coyotes typically shy away from human activity but they may take advantage of food around homes if natural prey is limited, a coyote is injured or sick, or young have not learned to hunt effectively,” Palmer said.

If conditioned to depend on people for food, coyotes can lose their fear of humans. Palmer said conflicts can arise from people feeding them, intentionally or not.

“Do not leave pet food outside and make sure garbage is secured,” Palmer said. “Discourage your neighbors from feeding feral cats, raccoons or coyotes themselves.”

She also recommended bringing bird feeders inside at night and removing seed that has fallen on the ground. Bird feeders attract animals that, in turn, attract coyotes.

Plug any holes under fences, block access to crawl spaces and fence any gardens, she said. Motion-activated lighting around the house can act as a coyote deterrent as well. Also, consider turning on outside lights and checking the yard for unwanted animals before letting a dog outside at night, she said.

A coyote that does not flee upon encountering a person could be sick, injured or habituated to people. But it’s important, not to panic if you see a coyote or one approaches you, Palmer said.

Coyotes are curious by nature and sometimes follow people or dogs to see what they are doing in their territories or to see that they do not get too close to their dens and pups, she said.

If you have a concern about pets being outside, Palmer said to keep them inside or kennel them when they are unattended. When walking a dog, use a short, non-retractable leash that is highly visible and vary your walking routine.

Other suggestions:

  • Don’t approach a coyote or linger to snap photos or take video.
  • Don’t turn your back on a coyote and don’t run. Running away can diminish the coyote’s fear of people and may trigger its chase instinct.
  • Don’t harass a coyote if it is cornered, with pups or seems sick or injured. It’s best to back away slowly or try to scare it away with loud noises.
  • Make yourself look bigger by waving your arms, widening your stance or waving a stick. Take a step or lunge toward the coyote to establish dominance. Throw a rock or a stick in its direction but not directly at it.
  • Pick up small dogs and children. Keep scaring the coyote until it’s out of sight. It’s also a good idea to teach children to recognize coyotes, never approach one and scare them away.
  • If you happen upon what you suspect is a den, like a hollow tree or brush pile, slowly back away and leave the area.

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