Dayton residents concerned by critters they say are lurking in nearby woods

Last week, Sandy DeHaven’s 8-year-old dog Butterscotch got blasted by a skunk while in the backyard of her home in Eastern Hills. This was the second time Butterscotch has been sprayed by a skunk in the last year. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

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Last week, Sandy DeHaven’s 8-year-old dog Butterscotch got blasted by a skunk while in the backyard of her home in Eastern Hills. This was the second time Butterscotch has been sprayed by a skunk in the last year. CORNELIUS FROLIK / STAFF

Residents of a east Dayton neighborhood are expressing concerns about pet safety and nuisances after numerous sightings of coyotes, skunks and other animals in a wooded area near their homes.

Linda McCrary, who has lived on Dawnview Avenue since 1973, says she has heard coyotes in the area of a mobile home park. She said she and others in the Eastern Hills neighborhood fear for the many feral and outdoor cats in the area.

“I’d like to see the coyotes moved out of that field, but I think I’m hoping for the impossible,” said McCrary, 75.

McCrary and others have also expressed concerns about about skunks, which have caused other issues with their stench.

Coyote populations in the Dayton area have been steady for the last five years, and there are hundreds or possibly thousands living in the city, said Jacob Barnes, owner of Barnes Wildlife Control, LLC, a local animal-removal company.

There has been an increase in calls about skunks in the east Dayton area, with is consistent with the growing skunk population in the Miami Valley because of the large availability of food like insects, he said.

MORE: Dayton area see increase in coyote sightings

McCrary said in the spring she heard loud howling outside her window early one morning. Then, a couple of weeks ago, McCrary was again awakened in the middle of the night by commotion coming from the woods. She believes it was the sound of an animal being killed.

“It sent a chill down my spine,” she said.

McCrary is concerned because she takes care of four feral felines and one outdoor cat that could not adapt to indoor living. She has multiple indoor cats.

McCrary said she feeds the cats outside. But now, with the threat of predators, she lets them sleep in her garage for safety.

McCrary also has purchased a wildlife camera and electronic light.

Coyotes are highly adaptable and elusive, said Barnes, with Barnes Wildlife Control, LLC. But rarely are domestic animals attacked or killed by coyotes, he said.

“Leaving pets unattended in areas known to have coyote sightings wouldn’t be a wise decision, especially during the winter months when food availability is scarce for coyotes as they will take more risks to get a meal,” Barnes said.

The state recommends removing all "attractants" to try to keep coyotes from returning, which include garbage, pet food and food items around grills.

MORE: Coyotes follow food to city

Kim Davis, who lives on a cul-de-sac on Merrydale Avenue around the corner from McCrary’s home, said she has heard coyotes in the woods for years.

“They need to set live traps over there, because you can see them and we’ve heard them,” Davis said. “I’d like to see them put in a better atmosphere.”

In the spring, Davis spotted a coyote in the middle of Burkhardt Avenue. But she and some others said they’re even more concerned about the nuisance created by skunks in the area.

MORE: Coyote sightings up in Dayton, suburbs

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In an incident last week, Davis’ cat was sitting in a windowsill when it fell and was clearly stunned, and she discovered it had been sprayed by a skunk. She had to discard a couch.

The dog of another neighbor, Sandy DeHaven, was spreayed by a skunk as well.

DeHaven, 57, said skunks are a nuisance, but she would be very worried if coyotes are prowling the neighborhood. .

Victor Naranjo, 45, who lives on Merrydale, said he’s never seen or heard coyotes in the woods behind his home.

“I’d be worried about the skunks,” he said.

MORE: Coyote sightings becoming more common, officials say

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