Coyotes pose threat to outdoor pets
Springfield resident Kathy Donovan charged into her back yard Wednesday morning to rescue her two dogs from menacing coyotes.
Donovan lives in the Kingsgate Commons development in northern Springfield. She knew coyotes lived in the brush and wooded area behind her home.
She was getting ready for work about 8:15 a.m. when she heard the warning.
“I heard Rudy bark, and it just wasn’t his normal ‘play bark,’” she said.
Donovan looked out the window and saw a coyote sitting inside her fenced back yard, watching her cattle dogs Rudy and Sadie. It was as large as an Irish setter.
“I absolutely freaked,” she said.
She ran into her back yard, grabbed Sadie and dragged her inside. The coyote did not seem intimidated by her, she said. It jumped outside the waist-high fence and began racing along its length while Rudy did the same inside the yard.
When Donovan returned for Rudy, she realized there was not one coyote outside the fence, but seven.Since 1998 the Clark County Humane Society has received a growing number of coyote-related calls, said the society’s Executive Director Ed Sisler.
The coyote sightings started in New Carlisle, then moved to South Charleston and then to South Vienna.
Two years ago the society started receiving calls from north Springfield.
The coyotes’ food supply has dwindled as their population increased, forcing them to look for food in more developed areas, Sisler said.
“Guess what he’s looking for?” Sisler said. “Cat. That’s dinner.”
Coyotes are omnivores and will eat carrion, fruits and vegetables, and small mammals.
The Humane Society sent three officers to Donovan’s house Wednesday morning, but they did not find the coyotes.
Sisler said they probably remained in the area.
Handling coyotes usually falls to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division.
The Humane Society doesn’t want to infringe on the wildlife division’s territory, but it also needs to protect Springfield residents when coyotes pose a threat in residential areas, Sisler said.
No one from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources could be reached for comment Wednesday.
Ohio law allows coyotes to be shot when they attack livestock but says nothing about shooting when pets are attacked, Sisler said.
Pet owners can take several precautions to keep their animals safe, like keeping their pets on leashes. Coyotes fear humans more than the reverse, Sisler said.
Homeowners can also erect 6-foot high privacy fences or buy a Barker Breaker, a device that emits loud noises that can scare coyotes.
Donovan said she will no longer keep her dogs in the back yard at night.
“I know they’re out there, but I wasn’t expecting them to be in my back yard,” she said. “It scared me.”
One of the most adaptable animals in the world, the coyote can change its breeding habits, diet and social dynamics to survive in a wide variety of habitats.
Alone, in pairs or in packs, coyotes maintain their territories by marking them with urine. They also use calls to defend this territory, as well as for strengthening social bonds and general communication. Coyotes can easily leap an 8 foot fence or wall. They have been spotted climbing over a 14 foot cyclone fence.