Hear them howl
Audio of yelping pack brings presence of coyotes alive in Milwaukee area
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.
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.