There's a coyote in your backyard. What do you do?
"Throw something, wave a broom or yell," Rochester Hills city naturalist Lance DeVoe said. "Coyotes need to be afraid of people in order to live harmoniously with us. They need to know we're dominant."
A Coyote Shaker may also come in handy, and it's something you can make yourself with a can, about 40 pennies and some duct tape. Drop pennies in can, cover hole with tape and shake.
"You need to scare them away," DeVoe said, "Keep them from getting comfortable,"
Are there more?
According to DeVoe, the Rochester area has always had coyotes, and probably always will.
"Other than rats they're the most adaptable animals," DeVoe said. "Their habitat is being developed and they've adapted to this loss by accepting your neighborhoods as their new habitat."
But as to the claim that the coyote population has increased, DeVoe doesn't believe it's accurate to say that.
DeVoe thinks it may be a case of increased sightings, not animals, as our habitats overlap.
Not always a villian
The coyote is basically a wild dog. They mate for life and are very territorial, not tolerating other coyotes in their area.
"They're a lot smaller than people think," DeVoe said. "Usually 30 pounds, 45 pounds maximum. They're long-limbed so they may appear larger."
Coyotes have a big home range, according to DeVoe, covering 10-15 miles. They don't hibernate and are active year round.
"They come to an area, eat all the rodents and small mammals and then move on," DeVoe said.
And that's why in some environments the coyote aren't necessarily considered the bad guys.
"It's the balance of nature," DeVoe said. "They keep the rodents in check."
What about my bird feeder?
It's true that a bird feeder can feed more than birds and attract other animals, like coyotes, in the process.
"The wrong kind of bird feeder can create a target rich environment," DeVoe said. But rather than not feeding the birds, you may just want to reconsider your feeder.
DeVoe recommended thistle feeders, suet and tube feeders, while avoiding hopper feeders.
Because it important to know that the coyote diet can include small mammals, like cats and dogs.
"It's still rare for a coyote to attack a small dog but it can happen," DeVoe said. "People, especially those living near fields or parks, need to know to watch out for coyote and keep an eye on their pets."