GREENWOOD – Some residents in a Greenwood subdivision say coyotes are hunting in their yards almost every night, and they wonder if nearby I-69 construction could be part of the reason.
For several months, trail cameras in the Windsong Estates subdivision, off Smith Valley Road, have been capturing hungry coyotes searching for food. Sightings are most common near the Frances Creek, which runs through the neighborhood.
“They’re pretty big,” said homeowner Eric Jones. “They’ve been showing up ever since probably about last summer.” Camera set up along the creek line show one, two, and sometimes three coyotes searching the neighborhood for food. “It kind of surprises me of how close they actually get to the house,” Jones said.
Like others in the neighborhood, Jones wonders if the expanding construction to convert SR 37 into I-69 has displaced the coyotes and driven more wildlife into nearby residential areas.
“We started seeing foxes, we started seeing an increase in raccoons, and then that’s also when the coyotes really started to appear,” he added.
Geriann Albers, a Wildlife Biologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources says it’s possible that a large scale construction project like I-69 could have forced some coyotes to look for new territory.
“The construction along I-69 has been tearing up some of the green spaces, right, that used to be some of the trees and brush and things,” Albers said. “So that could have shifted some of the coyotes around a bit.”
At the same time, Albers points out that coyotes with dens near the I-69 construction zone were probably already venturing out of the immediate area for food.
“Coyotes typically, even in urban areas, cover a square mile or two,” she said. “So that probably wouldn’t have made up the entirety of their home range. It might have moved their activity away from that area.”
Right now is the time when pups born last year are leaving their home dens and venturing out for their own territories, Albers said.
“Coyotes are territorial, so they set a space that’s their space and then they keep all the other coyotes out of it,” she said. “But those territories are really dynamic through time. So they might shift, they might get smaller, they might get bigger over time, that can change every year depending on what’s happening around them.”
Albers also points out that humans have been sharing the suburbs with coyotes for years. In general, she says sightings may seem more common because more homeowners have outdoor cameras on their properties. “You definitely think twice when you want to put the dog out in the back yard,” Jones said. “Definitely want to keep an eye on him.”
The DNR website has a number of resources related to coyotes in neighborhoods. Those include a list of steps homeowners can take to avoid attracting the animals:
- Feed pets indoors when possible; pick up leftovers if feeding outdoors; and store pet and livestock feed where it’s inaccessible to wildlife.
- Eliminate water bowls and other artificial water sources (if possible).
- Position bird feeders in a location that is less likely to attract small animals or bring the feeders in at night (to keep coyotes from feeding on the bird food or the other animals). Take down bird feeders if issues are occurring.
- Do not discard edible garbage where coyotes can get to it. Secure garbage containers.
- Trim and clean shrubbery near ground level to reduce hiding cover for coyotes or their prey.
- Always keep pets leashed and, if kept outside, provide secure nighttime housing for them. Any outdoor pet or poultry runs should have a top to make them more secure and the fencing should be buried in the ground to prevent digging under the fence.
- If you start seeing coyotes around your home, discourage them by shouting, making loud noises, shaking a container of coins, using an air horn or whistle, spraying them with a hose, or throwing rocks or tennis balls but NEVER corner a coyote – always give the coyote a free escape route.
DNR also has a website for reporting problems with wildlife and seeking help in removing unwanted animals. You can find that information here.