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Coyote sightings in city limits raise concerns with residents

Submitted Photo Coyotes are being sighted in the Minot city limits, but a state wildlife expert says their presence isn’t always a cause for concern. Photo from North Dakota Game and Fish.

Recent sightings of coyotes in the Minot city limits has inspired concern from residents, but their presence in the city’s urban wildlife environment is more normal than some would think according to state wildlife experts.

T. Kvigne, City of Minot public safety information and outreach officer, said Minot Animal Control officers work in conjunction with North Dakota Game and Fish Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to address urban coyotes exhibiting aggressive tendencies. However, Kvigne said the sighting of a coyote by itself does not need to be reported as the animals do live in cities throughout the state and the nation. He said any coyote approaching people or pets, and any sick or injured coyotes should be reported to authorities.

Stephanie Tucker, a NDGF furbearer biologist in Bismarck, agreed, saying the presence of coyotes in more urban environments is just a part of life in parts of the country where the animal is common.

“I think it’s more that coyotes are just so flexible in where they can live based on habitat. They have a surprising tolerance of people – a much higher tolerance of us than we do of them typically. Everywhere you go in the U.S. where there’s coyotes, there’s also urban coyotes. They aren’t just rural, they’re very much an urban wildfire species as well, as much as a raccoon or a skunk under a deck is,” Tucker said.

While their presence in the Minot community as of late has caused some concern among residents, Tucker said coyotes serve a role in the urban wildlife environment. She explained that coyotes are a territorial animal, and the presence of a coyote peacefully coexisting in urban environments actually prevents others from moving in.

“By removing a coyote, you’re just inviting another coyote to come in there, and that coyote might not be willing to coexist with people in such a peaceful way. Now if a coyote is acting aggressive, of course we can assist the local police department with removal, but that removal is always going to be a lethal removal,” Tucker said.

Tucker indicated relocating a coyote outside of city limits isn’t a humane option, as the animal will either return to the territory it inhabited previously, or die while attempting to coexist in the new environment it is placed in. Aggressive behavior that would require lethal removal includes repeated attacks on pets or aggressive behavior toward people and leashed dogs.

Kvigne said Minot residents should never feed coyotes or any wildlife,dispose of food in secured receptacles and refrain from composting meat, poultry, fish and dairy products. Pet owners are advised to not feed their pets outside and to not leave their animals outside unattended. Outdoor cats and small dogs are potential prey items for coyotes and considered detrimental to the urban wildlife environment.

It is also recommended that anyone who encounters an urban coyote should haze them, which Tucker described as letting the animal know it shouldn’t be where it’s at. This can be done through yelling, making loud noises, and other forms of negative reinforcement. That said, if a coyote is encountered near its den and pups, hazing could possibly cause the animal to be even more aggressive and should be avoided.

“If somebody is walking near where a coyote is denning with their pups, especially if they have a dog with them, domestic dogs will always elicit a territorial response out of that coyote. We highly recommend people avoid areas where they know coyotes are denning. Keep your dog on a leash. Don’t ever let your dog engage with a coyote. If you have a small dog, pick it up and carry it. In some times of the year, in particular when they’re denning their pups they can get quite aggressive,” Tucker said.

Coyote’s breed from January through March, and have their pups as early as March into early May. Coyote pups will remain near their den for around 30 to 60 days after they are born. Tucker said Coyote biology will produce larger litters in scenarios where there are ample food and lower coyote populations in the area.

“Coyotes are extremely resilient to most hunting and trapping pressure we can put on them. With the current interest in coyote hunting and trapping in the current fur market there’s just not even a chance that people could impact them through recreational hunting and trapping alone,” Tucker said.

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