Village leaders are warning residents about how to respond should they come into contact with a coyote after several recent sightings in St. Paris.
St. Paris Village Administrator Joe Sampson said there have been coyote sightings on at least four village streets.
“I just don’t think people are used to seeing them around town that much,” Sampson said.
St. Paris Mayor Joseph Reneer invited Champaign County’s Ohio Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Officer to the last village council meeting to educate citizens. The officer said the village’s feral cat population could be serving as a “buffet” for the coyotes, attracting them to the area.
The village now has literature at its municipal building for residents about coyotes.
The flyer explains that coyotes are in all 88 counties in Ohio, and seeing one is not cause for alarm. If one does come in contact with a coyote, they should make noise, clap their hands and shout, according to the flyer. If the coyote does not leave the area after that, the flyer instructs a person to throw rocks or other objects at it to scare it away.
Wildlife Management Supervisor Brett Beatty said coyotes are very territorial animals and to make sure you’re always the last one to walk away from a coyote encounter. He said if a person starts to retreat first, the coyote will take that as a sign of weakness and could attack.
The feral cats in St. Paris do provide a good food source for coyotes, Beatty said. But by eating cats, the coyotes also eliminate some of their competition for small mammals, he added.
“So instead of a cat and a coyote competing for the same food source, if the coyote removes the cat, it makes (finding food) easier for him,” Beatty said.
Angel Casey has four cats, two of which live outdoors, and small children so she is concerned about the coyotes in the area. She said she’s heard howling at night, but just assumed it was dogs down the street.
“I would be worried about the safety of the kids and other people’s animals that are outside,” Casey said.
She said because of the coyote sightings, she will reconsider allowing her children to play outside by themselves in the future.
“My kids play out back,” she said. “We have a wooded area behind our house.”
St. Paris authorities said if you do have any problems with coyotes to contact local law enforcement and not the division of wildlife. If you have continual coyote problems, there are coyote trappers that are for hire.
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