Coyotes appearing in county
Wednesday, 11 July 2012 11:57

Wild canine occasionally spotted locally

by John G. Bailey

Wild animals adapt to changing natural and human environments to survive. Sometimes they find habitat niches in which they can thrive.
    Coyotes were first documented in Maryland in 1972. The arrival of the coyote in western counties and its expansion since then throughout the rest of the state is part of a larger trend that has seen the population of the wild canine — the size of a small German Shepherd — grow exponentially east of the Mississippi.
    Sightings of coyotes in southeastern Baltimore County, then, should be no surprise.
    Though more frequently seen in the central Maryland region in Howard and Montgomery counties, where an interconnecting  network of wooded stream valleys within parks allows for  easy movement, the presence of coyotes in this area is now a certified fact.
  

Bob Iman owns a farm on North Point peninsula that borders Todd’s Inheritance on the south and North Point State Park on the north and east.
    “I’ve seen one five times over the years, always when I’m combining,” Iman reports. He believes it was always the same individual coyote. “I also saw one once in the middle of the day, which is very rare. He was acting funny. I think he had mange and probably died.”
    Iman has also heard reports of three coyote roadkill: two on Millers Island Road and the other on the North Point Boulevard-I-695 interchange.    
    Coyotes are very smart, smarter than the proverbial wise fox, which not surprisingly happens to be the coyote’s biggest competitor in the central Maryland habitat that they share.
    In fact a rise or decline in the population of red foxes in this area could be an indicator of the relative population size of coyotes. This is also true for wild rabbits, a coyote favorite.
    According to Ken D’Loughy, Central Region Manager of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Heritage Service, coyotes are opportunistic feeders. “They’ll eat anything from plants and insects to carrion, rabbits and larger animals. There’s been one report of livestock depredation in the region — in Sparks where a farmer reported a sheep killed.”
    Coyotes will also prey on house cats. D’Loughy suggests that small pets shouldn’t be let loose to run freely and that pet food should not be left outside. Don’t make things too easy for our habitat cohabitators.
    But regardless of the mystery surrounding these unfamiliar and intelligent predators and the fear engendered by its close genetic relationship to wolves, coyotes pose no direct threat to humans.
    Like snakes, another creature with a bad rap, coyotes will go out of their way to not be seen by humans, the ultimate predator. This perhaps is one reason why sightings are so rare.
    If you have concerns about a coyote that you’ve seen or just want to report a sighting, the Maryland DNR and the U.S. Department of Agricultural urges you to call this number: 877-463-6497. Reporting coyotes will help wildlife managers keep tabs on their population.
    The Maryland DNR also has information on coyotes on line at www.dnr.state.md.us.