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.
From a distance, coyotes can be difficult to distinguish from a medium-sized German Shepherd dog. They typically are a yellowish gray color, with a black-tipped tail. According to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the size and weight of coyotes are commonly overestimated, because their long fur masks a bone structure that is slighter than that of most domestic dogs. People are most likely to see coyotes during their breeding period, which occurs in Michigan from mid-January into March. Coyotes are active day and night; however, peaks in activity occur at sunrise and sunset.
Generally, coyotes feed at night and will eat almost anything available. Small mammals such as mice, voles, shrews, rabbits, and squirrels are preferred foods. However, insects, fruits, berries, birds, frogs, snakes, plants, and seeds round out their diet. In areas with a large deer population, carrion resulting from vehicle deer collisions or natural causes is an important source of food. In urban areas, coyotes are attracted to garbage, garden vegetables, and pet foods. Please note, they will also prey on unattended small dogs and cats if opportunities exist!
Coyotes rarely attack humans. 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 following important points can help minimize potential conflicts with coyotes:
- Never approach or touch a coyote
- Never intentionally feed a coyote
- Eliminate all outside food sources, especially pet foods
- Put garbage out the morning of pickup day
- Clear out wood and brush piles; they are good habitat for rats and mice and may attract coyotes
- Do not allow your pets to roam free, accompany your pets outside, especially at night
If you spot a coyote in Sterling Heights, please do not try to hunt or trap it.