Coyotes spotted in West Bloomfield

By: Eric Czarnik | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published March 2, 2012

 West Bloomfield residents say they spotted coyotes Feb. 20 around Harris and Simpson lakes. Wildlife experts say coyotes are rarely dangerous to humans, but have been known to kill pets and small animals.

West Bloomfield residents say they spotted coyotes Feb. 20 around Harris and Simpson lakes. Wildlife experts say coyotes are rarely dangerous to humans, but have been known to kill pets and small animals.

Photo provided by Donna Salkowski

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Keep an eye on your dogs and cats — a number of West Bloomfield residents are reporting that the coyotes are in town.

According to one of the residents, Donna Salkowski, the coyotes came across Harris Lake at around 9:30 a.m. Feb. 20. They then left, taking a path down Simpson Lake toward Middlebelt Road.

“It appears there were actually four of them, and they were in no hurry to leave,” she said in an email. “I did send a picture to the West Bloomfield Nature Preserve, as one of the neighbors thought they were (wolves), but she confirmed they were coyotes.”

The canine visit prompted Salkowski to alert her neighbors because coyotes have preyed on small dogs in the area before, she said. Wildlife experts say coyotes rarely attack humans, but the animals do prey on smaller animals, such as dogs.

Although West Bloomfield Nature Center naturalist Laurel Zoet could not be reached for comment, the township’s Parks and Recreation spokeswoman, Sue Reeves, said it is likely that residents are seeing coyotes now because it is their mating season.

“It’s well-known that we have coyotes in West Bloomfield,” she said. “Is it a problem? Only if you leave your dog out overnight. This comes up on a regular basis. … They’re in the area; they’re everywhere.”

While coyotes live throughout Michigan and in Oakland County, Reeves said there is no need to panic. She urged pet owners to watch their animals at night while they are outdoors and said dogs should be leashed and not allowed to roam freely. Pet food should not be left outside, she advised.

Russ Mason, chief of the wildlife division at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, said coyotes have become far more prevalent in Michigan now than in the past, and they can be seen just about any time of day. “They like that transitional habitat just like deer do,” he said. “There’s plenty of food for them. No one bothers them.”

Mason warned that coyotes can potentially be dangerous, and not just to critters, but he estimated that coyote attacks on humans are 10 or fewer every year in the U.S. — mostly because they become reliant on human feeders. “It turns out coyotes are not dogs,” he said. “They start looking at people as the food guys — it turns out they don’t take no for an answer, and they will bite you.”

To learn more about West Bloomfield Parks and Recreation, visit www.westbloomfieldparks.org or call (248) 451-1900.

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