Officials say coyotes are not a problem in Royal Oak

By: Victoria Mitchell | Royal Oak Review | Published March 18, 2015

 Coyotes have been in Royal Oak and the Metro Detroit area for more than a decade.

Coyotes have been in Royal Oak and the Metro Detroit area for more than a decade.


City Commission members added the topic of coyotes to the commission’s March 16 meeting agenda following public concern over a trapped animal in a residential backyard.

A video from WXYZ-TV showing a trapped coyote in a yard near Tenhave Woods, at Lexington Boulevard and Marais Avenue, caused an influx of phone calls and emails to City Hall on March 16 questioning the humane treatment of the animal.

“The city had no role at all in that and the city is not authorizing trapping of coyotes on public property,” said Community Engagement Specialist Judy Davids, adding that the City Commission is adamant that there will be no trapping in Tenhave Woods.

City officials also said there is no risk to the community.

“We have had no report that any people or animals have been attacked,” Police Chief Corrigan O’Donohue said.

O’Donohue said there was an indication that a coyote had been roaming near the Tenhave Woods Nature Center, but there is no reason to believe this is a particular issue.

The chief said further investigation into the incident showed that the area where the coyote was roaming included homes with bird feeders and a resident who might have been putting out food for the coyote, thinking it was a stray dog.

“The animals you want, they all have predators,” O’Donohue said.

Naturalist Bob Muller, of the Royal Oak Nature Society, said coyotes have been in Royal Oak for more than a decade. He said they are living from here all the way to the Detroit River.

“They are really good at not being seen, as a lot of wild animals are,” he said.

Muller said that coyotes are similar in look to a medium-size dog but are smarter than dogs. Muller said they are usually tannish in color with a longer snout, but determining the difference between a dog and a coyote may be difficult.

“Coyotes are not pack animals,” Muller said. “You are not going to get eight coyotes chasing down the neighbor’s dog.”

Muller said coyotes are looking for rats, mice, rabbits and even insects if they are an easy grab. He said they like to move around at night when there are fewer people outside.

Muller said a coyote is no more dangerous than a deer, owl, hawk or vulture, all of which are in Royal Oak. People with small pets unattended in their yards should take the same precautions as they would with any predatory animal.

“It is different than it was 20 to 30 years ago,” Muller said. “You have to understand what is out there that could eat your toy poodle.”

To prevent the possibility of a coyote coming into a resident’s yard, O’Donohue said to take the same precautions as with preventing rats.

This includes keeping your yard free of bird and deer feed, pet food and animal feces.

Muller recommends letting the animals be, but it is legal to trap on private property with permits secured through the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Davids said the trapping generating all of the attention was legal.

She said no one spoke out about the issue during the March 16 commission meeting and there have been no documented calls to the Police Department.

“Having coyotes and having a coyote problem are two different things,” she said.

O’Donohue said that if a resident is concerned with a coyote sighting, the resident should call the Police Department at (248) 246-3500.