Hear them howl

Au­dio of yelp­ing pack brings pres­ence of coy­otes alive in Mil­wau­kee area

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Milwaukee Wisconsin - Lee Bergquist Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal Sen­tinel USA TO­DAY NET­WORK - WIS­CON­SIN

Coy­otes — in­creas­ingly com­mon in the Mil­wau­kee area — are get­ting ex­tra at­ten­tion with the help of tech­nol­ogy and so­cial me­dia.

The num­ber of re­ported coy­ote sight­ings has in­creased since mid-June, ac­cord­ing to Mil­wau­kee County Coy­ote Watch, a web page de­voted to track­ing the an­i­mals.

On June 19, the site re­ported 636 ob­ser­va­tions of coy­otes and a small num­ber of fox over the past three years.

On Fri­day, the count climbed to 713 — an in­crease of 12%.

Coy­otes have been a part of the fab­ric of ur­ban life for many years, es­pe­cially in sub­ur­ban ar­eas, where rab­bits, squir­rels and chip­munks are in ready sup­ply. Sight­ings have climbed steadily over the years.

The rea­sons are prob­a­bly due to the ubiq­ui­tous na­ture of cam­eras to­day on smart­phones, the in­creas­ing use of so­cial me­dia and coy­otes’ own be­hav­ior, ac­cord­ing to Dianne Robin­son, a DNR wildlife bi­ol­o­gist who works in the Mil­wau­kee area.

Peo­ple ap­pear to be turn­ing more to Coy­ote Watch for up­dates and in­for­ma­tion, Robin­son said.

A re­cent photo, from Nov. 15, shows a

coy­ote in down­town Mil­wau­kee, mov­ing through the grass along the Mil­wau­kee River near North Plank­in­ton Av­enue and East St. Paul Av­enue.

In ad­di­tion, an app called “Nextdoor,” which al­lows neigh­bor­hoods to share in­for­ma­tion about where they live, has prob­a­bly raised the pro­file of coy­otes, Robin­son said.

Among re­ports of break-ins and lost mit­tens, Nextdoor users also share sto­ries of coy­ote sight­ings — some more ne­far­i­ous, such as when pets are killed.

Robin­son said she doesn’t think there has been a re­cent in­crease in the num­ber of pets at­tacked by coy­otes in the area. Most depre­da­tions are re­ported to po­lice, and most cases are for­warded to the DNR.

Over time, Robin­son said, coy­otes have be­come more com­fort­able in the pres­ence of hu­mans.

In the fall, she said, younger coy­otes move out on their own, “tend to be im­ma­ture” and might be less threat­ened by hu­mans be­cause they have not yet had neg­a­tive in­ter­ac­tions.

It’s the young coy­otes, she said, that tend to get struck by ve­hi­cles.

The Wis­con­sin Hu­mane So­ci­ety of­fers sug­ges­tions for con­tend­ing with coy­otes, in­clud­ing mak­ing sure garbage lids are se­cured and com­post bins are closed. Mo­tion-ac­ti­vated sprin­klers are also a de­ter­rent.

Robin­son of­fered these tips for peo­ple who come into con­tact with a coy­ote:

❚ “The best thing we can do is re­lay to peo­ple, ‘If you do see a coy­ote, scare it away — ac­tively scare it away.’ ”

❚ If that doesn’t work, throw a stick or rock with­out try­ing to hurt it.

An ef­fec­tive tool is a Su­per Soaker, sprayed di­rectly at the an­i­mal.

That’s not as easy in late fall, she ac­knowl­edged.

But she said coy­otes — like hu­mans — don’t want to be hit with a blast of wa­ter on a cold day.

WIS­CON­SIN DEPART­MENT OF NAT­U­RAL RE­SOURCES

The num­ber of coy­ote sight­ings in Mil­wau­kee County has jumped sharply since mid-June, ac­cord­ing to Mil­wau­kee County Coy­ote Watch, a web­page de­voted to track­ing the an­i­mals.

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