How many of the animals are present in Portsmouth and Scioto County isn’t exactly clear, but there seems to be absolutely no doubt coyotes are plentiful — and probably becoming more so — in this part of Southern Ohio.
“There is no closed season on coyotes,” says Lindsay Rist, wildlife communications specialist for the Ohio Division of Natural Resource, District 4, which includes Scioto County. Rist says the fact there are almost no restrictions on hunting the animals shows how plentiful they are.
“The coyote is not native to Ohio, but it is present throughout the state today,” the ODNR website reads in part regarding the animals. Rist says coyotes are extremely adaptable, and have been found in not only rural or semi-rural areas, but also in highly urbanized locations such as Cleveland. News media in that Northeast Ohio city are reporting a large influx of the animals in the area.
An ODNR webpage on coyotes does not give specific estimates of the numbers of the animals in Scioto County or anywhere else in Ohio. The webpage does feature a map showing areas of coyote concentration, and shows this portion of Southern Ohio as having a high concentration of the animals. A graph showing coyote abundance through 2015 reveals a statewide bowhunter survey found 14.7 coyotes per thousand hours of observation in 2015. The numbers are definitely on the rise. In 1990, the earliest year for which survey numbers are available, only a few more than five coyotes were spotted every thousand hours.
Rist says, in general, coyotes are not dangerous to humans.
“There is no documented evidence of any coyote attack on humans,” she says. However, Rist repeats the animals are highly adaptable and “will eat just about anything.”
The ODNR website does not list any communicable diseases as being carried by coyotes.
Recently, there have been numerous reports of local coyote sightings on various social media. The most common comments expressed concern the safety of pets or livestock. The ODNR website gives several tips about what do if you think a coyote is or has been in your backyard.
The ODNR first cautions folks to realize coyotes are common in both rural and urban settings throughout Ohio. Coyotes are not wolves, the ODNR further notes, stating there are no wild wolves in Ohio. The ODNR further notes coyotes can greatly resemble dogs.
So how do you know if the animal in your backyard is a stray dog or a coyote?
“The coyote is generally a slender animal, very similar in appearance to a medium-sized dog. Coyotes have a bushy tail, which is usually tipped in black, and is carried down at a 45-degree angle as the animal moves, unlike that of its other cousin the wolf. Most coyotes are gray, though some show a rusty, brown or off-white coloration. The coyote stands about one and one half to two feet tall, and is between 41 to 53 inches in length. Males of this species are larger than the females and weigh anywhere from 20 to 50 pounds,” the ODNR webpage states.
The ODNR advises that if you do determine you have a coyote on your property, remove all “attractants,” that is, such items as garbage and excess pet food, remembering coyotes will eat almost anything. Don’t forget to clean up around your grill, especially before nightfall. The ODNR notes coyotes will prey on small animals such as rabbits and mice, as well as small pets. If you suspect a coyote is in your area, you might want to keep smaller pets indoors at night. Finally, the ODNR notes coyotes are curious but generally fearful of humans. Clap your hands and shout to scare off coyotes that are investigating your turf.
If the coyote visiting your yard displays a lack of fear of humans or keeps coming back even after removing all attractants from your yard, you might want to contact a nuisance trapper. You can locate a trapper near you by calling the Division of Wildlife at 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543).
Rist again notes while there are few restrictions on hunting coyotes, during deer season hunters must follow deer hunting rules.
“If hunted during the deer gun season, hours and legal hunting devices are the same as for deer gun season. Rifles and night vision scopes are legal for coyote hunting, however, rifles and night hunting between 30 minutes after sunset and 30 minutes before sunrise are prohibited during any deer gun and deer muzzleloader seasons. Trappers can trap coyotes without a fur taker permit. However, anyone hunting, trapping or snaring coyotes must have a valid hunting license,” Rist wrote in an email.
Rist says coyote pelts are nominally valuable and generally worth more in the winter when their fur is thickest. She says the best thing to do with a dead animal is to bury it, if at all possible.
While clearly not as plentiful as coyotes, the ODNR also is dealing with an uptick in the number of bobcats spotted in Ohio. The ODNR website says bobcats are native to Ohio, but are mostly found in the northeast part of the state. The ODNR reports somewhere between 500 and 600 of the animals were spotted in 2015, which appears to be an all-time high. There were roughly 500 bobcats reported in 2017.
In Southern Ohio, bobcats are far less common. Only one to 20 confirmed sightings were reported in areas around Scioto County, though the time frame for those sightings is not given. On Thursday, according to media reports, the Ohio Division of Wildlife Council voted 6-1 to indefinitely postpone a proposal to allow the hunting and trapping of bobcats in Ohio. Proponents argue the bobcat population in Ohio is skyrocketing with the numbers reported thought to be much lower than the reality.
Reach Tom Corrigan at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931