In light of the number of recent calls Animal Control has received regarding coyote sightings in the 14/15 Mile, Schoenherr/ Dodge Park area, Sterling Heights Animal Control officers would like to share some information to concerned residents.
While other animals are flying south or getting ready to hibernate this time of year, young coyotes are dispersing from their den sites to establish home ranges of their own. These young animals sometimes wander into urban areas.
Recently, Animal Control has received multiple calls about coyote sightings in Sterling Heights, around the 14/15 Mile, Schoeneherr/Dodge Park area. Our Animal Control Officers have approached the coyotes on these runs and in every instance, the coyotes have acted normal, that is they proceeded to get up and run away from the humans. The officers have not observed any atypical behavior that would lead to concern.
Coyotes are found in every county in Michigan. They are becoming increasingly more common in suburban and urban areas throughout the country. Coyotes are moving into more non-traditional areas, like metropolitan areas, as a result of development encroaching on their natural habitats. Coyotes do remarkably well at finding ways to live near humans without being detected.
From a distance, coyotes can be difficult to distinguish from a medium-sized German Shepherd dog. Coyotes weigh between 25 - 40 pounds and carry their bushy, black tipped tail downward or below the level of their back.
People are most likely to see coyotes during their breeding period, which occurs in Michigan from mid-January through March. Coyotes are active day and night, however, activity peaks near sunrise and sunset. Coyotes generally feed at night.
Coyotes are opportunistic and will eat almost anything available. Small mammals such as mice, voles, rabbits and squirrel are preferred foods in suburban and urban areas. Birds, insects, fruits and carrion are also eaten. In neighborhoods and residential areas, coyotes are attracted to garbage, garden vegetables and pet food. They will also prey on unattended small dogs and cats.
Coyotes Are Shy
Coyotes are generally timid and shy animals that tend to steer clear of any potential danger and thus, pose little threat to humans. While there has been no documented injuries to humans from coyotes in Michigan, some western states have reported coyote attacks on human beings. Bites from snakes, rodents, and domestic dogs are a far greater possibility than coyote bites, according to public health authorities. However, coyotes that are fed become accustomed to people and present a human safety risk. People should NEVER intentionally feed or attempt to tame coyotes. It is in the best interest of both coyotes and humans if coyotes retain their instinctive fear of people.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Macomb County Health Department, the city of Sterling Heights and other control agencies do not recommend trapping because the required traps are too large and can pose a threat to children and small pets. Trapping on public property is not permitted. However, there are agencies that will trap on private property.
For More Information
- USDA Wildlife Services – Michigan State Division: 517-336-1928
- Michigan Department of Natural Resources: 734-953-0241
- Macomb County Animal Shelter: 586- 469-5115
- Sterling Heights Library: 586-446-BOOK
- Sterling Heights Nature Center: 586-446-2710