Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Dog-eating coyotes outfox sharpshooters

By Susan Vela svela@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SPRINGDALE - Sharpshooters will retire their guns today as the city attempts wilier, long-term ways of handling the coyotes that killed a small poodle last week in the Oxford Hills subdivision.

        “They're just staying under cover where you can't see them, but they're still there,” Health Commissioner David Winfough said. “We can't afford to have a police detail out there seven days a week, 365 days a year.

        “One thing we're sure of is, we cannot eradicate the coyotes. They're in all the suburbs around Cincinnati. They're very intelligent, very resourceful. They're part of the natural fauna now.”

        Coyotes live in Ohio's 88 counties and, since Thursday, Mr. Winfough has heard of recent sightings in Fairfield, Evendale and Sharonville.

        Accepting the coyotes' indomitable presence, Mr. Winfough is now determining how to help residents do the same.

        In the next week, he will send out letters advising up to 300 residents in the Oxford Hills and Springdale Lake subdivisions on how to live near the coyotes.

        The advice is simple: Keep the garbage covered, don't leave pet food or water dishes out, and always keep an eye on children and pets. Mr. Winfough hopes to send out a reminder letter annually.

        In the next month, he also plans to invite an Ohio Department of Natural Resources representative to hold a seminar on coyotes.

        “If there's anything we can get out it's: "They're here. Be aware of them,”' he said.

        Residents who spot coyotes shouldn't rush to grab a gun, officials said. Instead, they should contact the police at 346-5760, or the health department at 346-5726.

        City officials participated in a conference call on Monday and decided that today would be the last time they sent two marksmen into the woods behind the home of Gary and Kathy Pender, who live in the 600 block of Cedarhill Drive.

        Their dog, Casey, was killed Thursday .Mr. Winfough suspects that a pack of up to five coyotes leapt the Penders' fence to eat the 10-pound dog.

        Because coyotes are solitary creatures, Dave Risley, of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, believes the pack included a mother teaching her young litter to hunt. The pups would be several months old.

        Since then, sharpshooters have headed into the woods daily to unsuccessfully hunt for the coyotes. They shot at a lone coyote on Friday and, the next day, spotted another that was out of range. The dense coverage hasn't helped, Mr. Winfough said.

        “I don't think they've left the area. They've just gone back into their den or their thick underbrush,” Mayor Doyle Webster said. “We may get lucky and kill one, two or three coyotes, but they'll breed again.

        “As long as there's a wooded area that provides a refuge, we'll have coyotes. All we can do is educate. (But) we're going to make life miserable for them if we can.”

        The coyote family most likely will separate in the fall, when the young ones strike out to establish territories of their own, Mr. Risley said. Because they are genetically driven to solely eat rodents, only extreme hunger would cause them to eat a domestic pet, he said.


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