Franklin — Coyote sightings in Milwaukee County are becoming more common this fall, but in terms of typical coyote behavior, that's not uncommon.
According to Julia Robson, assistant natural areas coordinator for Milwaukee County Parks, the county normally sees a peak in sightings through the span of September to December because young coyotes have started going out on their own.
"We are entering a period in the coyote life-cycle during which young coyotes – teenagers if you will – begin to disperse from their natal territory in an attempt to establish a territory of their own and/or find a mate," Robson said. "Sometimes these younger animals begin to explore residential areas during this dispersal period."
Moving to suburbs
Looking to get settled somewhere, these coyotes can sometimes head to the suburbs, including Franklin.
"Franklin has a lot of nice green spaces that run through the area," said Dianne Robinson, Milwaukee County wildlife biologist, explaining why coyotes may be attracted to the area. Some parts of the city are still fairly rural, and as the Root River runs directly through the middle of the city, coyotes may travel down through the area on their way to see the world.
In Robson's opinion, seeing these coyotes around the area shouldn't be a cause for concern, even though residents may jump at the sight of one of these wily creatures.
For example, this September, one Franklin woman reported unusual animal droppings in her yard, suggesting that it might be from a bear. She called the police department, who then referred the issue to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Robinson, who investigated the issue, said that it was more likely to be from a coyote, or another smaller wild animal.
Those who do see coyotes around town are encouraged to report sightings to the DNR online. Reporting the sighting helps the county track coyote activity to make sure that they are not causing issues.
If you do have a frequent coyote visitor at your property, Robson offers a few tips.
First, she says, avoid feeding wildlife. This means keeping pet food inside, taking down bird feeders, and ridding your property of brush piles, which can be havens for the small rodents that are part of the coyote's natural diet.
In addition, Robson encourages residents to protect their pets by keeping them indoors. Coyotes have recently attacked pets in Whitefish Bay and Glendale, and both pets involved died. The best way to avoid this is by avoiding a coyote-pet confrontation altogether.
Another way to discourage coyotes from visiting your property is by "hazing" them.
"Discourage coyotes by using scare tactics, or hazing, if they are seen in your yard or while out walking. Yelling, making loud noises and aggressive gestures, and throwing objects towards the animal can be effective. More aggressive techniques such as spraying the animal with a hose or air-horns are also acceptable tools for hazing," Robson suggests. "If after attempting to haze a coyote, the coyote leaves the area then you have been successful in your hazing efforts."
If the issue persists, the DNR does permit the lethal removal of the animal, though this is not an adequate solution for the large scale control of coyotes, Robson says.
Milwaukee County has hosted two workshops on "co-existing with coyotes" this past October, and plans to host another in Franklin sometime this fall.
The county does not have a tally on the coyote population in the area, but, according to research Robson cited, "Coyotes are present in every major city continent-wide. While we currently do not have an estimation on the number of coyotes present in Milwaukee County, it is safe to assume that they are relatively common throughout Milwaukee, as they are throughout much of Wisconsin."