By TIM CLEVELAND
With community residents becoming more concerned about coyotes in the area, the Ohio Division of Wildlife offered a free program on coyotes of Northeast Ohio event March 6 at Boardman Community Park’s Lariccia Family Community Center to educate the public about the creatures.
Sixty people registered for the event, at which a pair of Division of Wildlife employees spoke about coyote biology, ecology, population trends and current status, dispelling myths about coyotes and what to do if you encounter one.
Division of Wildlife Communications Specialist Jamey Emmert said the program came about due to calls that were received about coyotes from the public.
“We get a lot of phone calls at our office in Akron - we cover 19 counties in Northeast Ohio, so we have a pretty big district,” she said. “Much of the phone calls we get from concerned residents with problems, conflicts with wildlife involve coyotes. They aren’t necessarily conflicts to us, but could be to residents. By what I mean by that is that coyotes are merely present and sometimes their shear presence causes concern. We wanted to educate people as best we could on the fact that coyotes are here, that they’re not wolves, and that they don’t necessarily bring with them problems if you react to their presence. If they’re around and they’re losing their fear of humans, then there’s ways that can be reversed.”
The other speaker was Bryan Kay, a private lands biologist and wildlife research technician with the Division of Wildlife.
“My colleague Bryan Kay and I will talk a little bit about coyotes, just helping people get to know them and talk about how to deal with their presence,” Emmert said.
It was said that one way to identify a coyote and not mistake it for a dog is a coyote usually has salt and pepper fur with a dark tip at the end of its tail, and yellow eyes.
While Kay focused on the biology, ecology and population trends of coyotes, Emmert said she would be dispelling myths about them.
“There are a lot of myths that follow coyotes that aren’t necessarily true,” she said. “No. 1 is that they’re just going to eat anything that they have the opportunity to eat, including kids, dogs and cats. We’ll dispel some of those myths why they may cause concern in an environment.”
One of the attendees was Jim Kerr, a Columbiana County resident who works at Beaver Creek State Park’s Wildlife Education Center.
“I’d like to learn more about coyotes,” he said. “I’d just like to learn more about the wildlife in Ohio”
Anyone seeking to educate themselves about coyotes or any other wildlife in Ohio can go to www.wildohio.com.