According to Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials, coyotes are more common in rural Livingston County than any of the surrounding areas, yet there has been in increase in sightings in areas such as Canton and Farmington Hills.
However, Livingston County law enforcement officials said that they have not received any word of increased sightings.
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One Hartland resident says her family is feeling the strong presence of coyotes, sometimes too close for comfort, in her own backyard.
"We had a coyote run through our backyard," Lynn Ruona wrote in an email to Patch. "My husband and golden retriever were out walking and it ran right past them trying to chase down a deer."
Ruono, who lives in the area of Pleasant Valley and Hyne Road said this also wasn't the first incident for her and many of her neighbors. Last year, one coyote had even chased Ruono's 80-pound golden retriever right up to her front porch.
"I was on the porch screaming and yelling but he/she showed no fear of me at all," she wrote.
Coyotes in Hartland are nothing new, however. In 2010, Patch reported that two subdivisions had been put on alert and told not to leave children and small pets unattended after coyotes had been spotted in the area.
According to Tim Payne from the Wildlife Division of Michigan's Department of Natural Resources, however, an increased coyote presence in suburban areas does not necessarily signal a problem.
While coyotes often are associated with the wilderness of northern Michigan, they can thrive in urban and suburban areas, Payne said. Because of an abundance of small rodents and, in warmer months, vegetables growing in gardens, coyotes often occupy the same spaces as humans.
Julie Oakes, DNR Senior Biologist for the Livingston County area said coyotes are more visible this time of year because it's their breeding season. The typical coyote breeding season begins in January and lasts through March.
Oakes said that coyotes' main diet consists of small rodents, such as rats, mice, rabbits and even sometimes roadkill.
"They hunt at night, so unless you're letting a small 2-year-old child run through the fields where they're hunting at night, they're not a danger," she said. "But their opportunistic. If an animal (dog) comes into their path, their known to attack, but it's not usually to eat them. These incidents usually happen in the spring and they attack to protect the pups in their den."
Oakes said that bird feeders are one of the biggest attractors that bring coyotes up to houses.
"That (feeder) is what's attracting rats, mice, raccoons and everything else that come in at night to eat that bird feed, and then the coyotes come up and hunt those critters," she said.
If a coyote does pose a threat, though, Payne says Michigan's laws allow the animal to be killed. However, he says such problems can be rare.
"We want people to live with wildlife and enjoy coyotes," Payne said. "Most of the time they are not a problem."
If you encounter a coyote
To assist in minimizing a potential conflict with a coyote:
- Never approach or touch a coyote
- Never intentionally feed a coyote
- Eliminate all outside food sources, especially pet food
- Put garbage out the morning of pick-up
- Clear out wood and brush piles; they are a habitat for mice and may attract coyotes
- Do not allow pets to roam free when coyotes are present—consider keeping pets indoors or accompany them outside, especially at night
Because residents share the community with wild animals, a coyote sighting should not automatically be considered a cause for concern.