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Published: Friday, 10/12/2012

Coyotes’ mournful howls pierce the suburban quiet

BY MATT MARKEY
BLADE OUTDOORS EDITOR

The howling goes on outside just about every night. Jim Seibold and his wife hear it — sometimes off in the distance, sometimes very close by — but it is not something they really get used to.

First there is the chorus of chaotic yips, usually in the falsetto range, and then the song strings out in a longer, eerie cry that fractures the stillness of the evening. The urban coyotes that frequent both sides of the Maumee River corridor around Side Cut Park are again gathering the family, or issuing a territorial warning to other packs.

“We know they are out there – we see them regularly — but the howling is still a little unsettling,” Seibold said. “It really gets your attention if you’re out on the deck, and sometimes it even wakes you up in the middle of the night.”

Seibold, who lives on the Perrysburg side of the river, is experiencing a phenomenon that many city and suburban dwellers have been forced to accept as part of the landscape. Coyotes, those one-time shadowy figures of the plains and prairies, are living in and around large urban areas, and thriving in their secretive, nocturnal lifestyle.

Ohio State University associate professor and wildlife specialist Stan Gehrt spoke Wednesday evening at Wildwood Metropark’s Ward Pavilion on “Urban Coyote Ecology & Management.” Gehrt has engaged in an extensive study of coyote behavior in the Chicago area, capturing the animals and placing electronic monitoring collars on them in order to track their movements and better understand how coyotes have adapted to life in our cities.

Studies such as this have shown that coyotes are the leading carnivore in many urban areas, with a diet dominated by small mammals — mostly rodents. Coyotes are also opportunistic feeders that utilize fruit, pet food, and garbage to supplement what they hunt. They are also believed to be preying on the burgeoning Canada geese flocks in certain areas.

Deer hunter Charlie Nopper had a group of four coyotes pass near his tree stand the other day while Nopper was bow hunting. He relayed that the coyotes appeared to be hunting as a pack, hot on the trail of four antlerless deer that had moved close by the stand.

Coyotes are also the primary suspects in cases where cats have come up missing in areas that are known to have coyote populations. Seibold said he has seen coyotes up close to his house, and that he is very careful when putting the family dog outside.

“We make a lot of noise when we let him out, just to play it safe,” Seibold said.

Recently, after a large field near the river was mowed, Seibold had the opportunity to see several coyotes more clearly, usually in the twilight hours.

“Most of them are very nocturnal, but when you do get a good look at them, you realize that by dog standards, they are the size of a big dog,” he said. “From far away, they look small and can be confused with a fox, but up close you can clearly see the size difference.”

Seibold also said the coyotes he sees along the Maumee River bottom land move in a distinctly different manner than dogs do.

“They are very quick with their movements, and very fluid and agile,” he said. “They just kind of glide along. And the ones we’ve seen — they look very healthy.”

FISHING REPORT: The recent stiff breezes have stirred things up in the Western Basin, but when the weather cooperates, so do the fish. Jan Czerwinski at the Sassy Sal charter boat operation in Port Clinton said parties aboard their walk-on day trips have been hitting the yellow perch hard, fishing in 16-18 feet of water about four miles out in the lake. She urged interested parties to call the day before to check on the weather, and the space availability. Rick Ferguson at Al Szuch Live Bait in Curtice said a few anglers are trolling and picking up walleyes, but most are focused on perch and doing well in many of the traditional hot spots. Ferguson also said shiner minnows remain in good supply. Butch & Denny’s Bait Shop reports that prior to the rush of high winds churning things up, the perch fishing had been very good from Little Cedar Point out to the Toledo Harbor Light. Brian Johnson of Oregon reported recent limit catches of perch off Geneva, with a number of fish in the box in the 10, 11 and 12-inch range. His group had five “Fish Ohio” perch as the stars of that haul. Johnson also relayed information about doing well on yellow perch closer to home, in 22-feet of water off Metzger Marsh.

Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: mmarkey@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.



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