For Munroe Falls residents Jason and Shauna Alstrom, seeing a coyote in their neighborhood was unexpected.

Jason Alstrom said he and his wife were returning home in the evening Dec. 29 when they saw what appeared to be a juvenile coyote in the area around the Pinehurst Road and Hiwood Avenue intersection.

"A little surprising to see four houses down from your house, running on the sidewalk," said Jason Alstrom.

Munroe Falls resident Kelsey Lucardie said she, her husband and their daughter have seen a coyote by the McDonald’s restaurant and the nearby Route 91 railroad tracks.

"He is large and healthy looking guy," said Lucardie, adding that she also saw a coyote run through her yard once in the Steeplechase development.

"I don’t have any fears regarding these animals," she said.

Munroe Falls Police Chief Jerry Hughes said he does not know of any reports of coyotes to the police department, but he has seen Facebook postings concerning sightings by residents.

"I talked to one of my sergeants and he’s actually seen a couple of coyotes also, so I know they’re out there, but how prevalent or how often they’re sighted, I couldn't tell you," said Hughes.

Alstrom said he knows what coyotes look like because he works in Twinsburg at night.

"We see them up there and hear them quite often," he said.

Twinsburg Assistant Police Chief Bob Gonsiewski said residents are used to coyotes and when they do report seeing one, it is usually a new resident. He said he does not recall any reports of pets being attacked.

"Most people around here know, don’t leave your small pets out by themselves because they may disappear," said Gonsiewski.

Neighboring Macedonia, however, has had several coyote attacks in the past couple of years. Police Lt. Vince Yakapovich said the most recent one was when police responded to a 911 call on Whispering Woods Drive in the late evening Nov. 15.

"The guy went to let the dog out, the coyote grabbed it in the yard, dragged it into the woods," said Yakapovich. "Our officers found the dog deceased."

In early 2016, two residents reported coyote attacks on dogs. A coyote took a dog from a back patio on Chinaberry Circle while the owner watched, helpless to stop it. A few weeks later, another dog was injured by what police said they believed was the same "alpha male" coyote just a few houses away.

Dan Shroyer, Summit County wildlife officer in the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s District 3 office in Akron, estimated that he receives perhaps one inquiry a month about coyotes. He added that he seldom receives reports of coyote attacks on pets.

"No shortage of coyotes anywhere in the state of Ohio and the calls I typically get are just people concerned in urban areas, that they see a coyote walking through their back yard," said Shroyer.

Jamey Emmert, District 3 wildlife communications specialist, said residents concerned about coyotes in their neighborhoods can do something as simple as putting quarters or rocks into a metal can and shaking it to create a "loud, obnoxious sound that is not comfortable to wildlife." Banging pots and pans together, using an air horn or, in the warmer months, spraying water at the animal are also options, she said.

"Somebody sees a coyote one time, they may not think much of it," she said. "Maybe over so many days, that coyote passes through their back yard and it’s kind of exciting, it’s kind of neat to see that, to take pictures. But as that coyote continues to become more and more comfortable with that property, they’ll become more comfortable with the activity of humans beings around and the coyote will learn this routine. So making that coyote feel uncomfortable will help it stay wild."

Emmert said people should not be so surprised to see coyotes because their populations have grown just about everywhere in the nation over the last few decades and they are "tolerant of human activity."

"This is an animal that is very, very well adapted to a wide variety of environments. So when we talk about animals that suffer from urban sprawl, coyotes do not fall into that category," she said.

She added that coyotes also have a diverse diet and have been known to eat such things as fruits and nuts and dig through garbage outside homes, especially if meat is scarce.

They are naturally nocturnal, but can be active during the day if an opportunity for food presents itself. As an example, she said, if a coyote learns that someone regularly puts out food for cats, it may go after the food itself.

"If they can sneak up on somebody's porch and get a free meal, they will definitely do it," she said.

Shroyer said this kind of behavior is a hallmark of the coyote.

"Any energy an animal has to expend catching its dinner, it has to recoup those calories. So they’re very opportunistic and eat what’s in front of them," he said.

Emmert said that coyotes will "occasionally" go after small pets, but this is sometimes the coyote protecting itself or its territory.

"I own a small Jack Russell terrier mix and I can tell you she is a very spirited animal," said Emmert. "If I let her outside, off leash or out of the fenced-in back yard, she sees a coyote, she will tear off after that coyote. Some coyotes will stand their ground and protect themselves. Others will run. It just depends on the circumstances. Regardless, a coyote will hand my little Jack Russell her tail very quickly. So containing our pets or keeping our pets leashed or cabled, especially during the nighttime hours when coyotes are hunting, will help reduce those problems."

Emmert said it is difficult to confirm that a coyote is responsible for an attack, as opposed to a large dog or feral cats, unless the attack is actually witnessed or the wounds can be examined by an expert.

Emmert said coyote attacks on humans, including children, are extremely rare, at least in Ohio.

"It’s been documented. Here in Ohio only once and that was in Cleveland Metroparks over a decade ago," she said, adding the coyote was sick, was threatened by an aggressive dog and ended up attacking a man riding by on a bicycle.

Alstrom said that since seeing the coyote, he and his wife have been very careful when they let their small pug Otis outside.

"He’s an older dog, probably wouldn’t put up much of a fight against a full-grown coyote or a cub even," said Alstrom.

He added that they were not the only pet owners in the area concerned about the coyote that night.

"There was guy walking his dog right up by our house and he said, ‘Is that a coyote?’ and "Yeah, a small coyote" and he said, "I was wondering what it was," said Alstrom. "He had a bigger dog, bigger than the coyote, probably a lab or something. He walked across the street and continued walking."

jsaunders@recordpub.com

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