More people are seeing more coyotes locally — at night and day, in rural and suburban areas — threatening some pets and boosting business for some companies.
Montgomery, Greene and Warren counties are home to a relatively high number of coyotes, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Most other area counties are ranked as medium for coyote population.
Coyote sightings are up in Dayton suburbs, according to Jacob Barnes, owner of Barnes Wildlife Control LLC. He said he sometimes traps as many as six or seven coyotes in one day.
“Vandalia, Oakwood, and Kettering are pretty bad,” Barnes said. “I get called out to those areas often.”
Kathy Garza-Behr, a wildlife officer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, cited several possibilities for increased sightings.
“They respond positively to pressure, so the more you hunt them, the more they will reproduce. It’s an animal that we will always have in Ohio’s landscape.”
Garza-Behr said that while coyotes are not native to Ohio, they have existed in the western part of the state for some time. People may be noticing them more now, she said, because they are no longer a “country” or “plains” animal. In fact, they seem to be adapting to the suburbs well.
“They’re finding more security and food in our habitat,” said Mike Bryslan, owner of State Wildlife Control.
Area residents do not have to be awake at odd hours to see them now, either. Garza-Behr said that, this time of year, it is not unusual to see a coyote in broad daylight.
“They are more active right now, because it’s mating season. Cold spells can make food harder to find, too, so you will see them hunting during abnormal hours,” she said.
Coyotes are classified as nuisance animals, or varmints, in the state of Ohio. Bryslan, who specializes in varmints, said the animal is generally very timid.
“The fact of the matter is, you never hear about coyotes attacking people. It’s very, very rare that this will happen,” she said.
But pets are another story.
While coyotes typically limit themselves to smaller prey, Barnes said a client called after his 150-pound Bernese dog was attacked and killed by a pack of coyotes.
“Coyotes have no natural predator in Ohio,” said Tim Harrison, director of Outreach for Animals. “It is very important that people keep an eye on their cats and dogs.”
Harrison also suggested teaching young children to “stand their ground” and make a loud noise — like a clap — if they come across one. Typically, he said, noise is enough to scare the animal away.
Keeping garbage and pet food inside the house or garage, rather than out in the open, will also help keep coyotes away, Garza-Behr said.
In Ohio, the coyote hunting season is open year-round, and landowners do not need licenses to kill coyotes on their property. For those in the suburbs, however, wildlife control companies are the most common option for population control.
“If it gives you better peace of mind, you can certainly call a nuisance company,” Garza-Behr said. “But I always tell people: you’ve probably been living with them for years and are just now realizing it.”