There has been an increase in coyote sightings in the areas surrounding White Lake and Highland in recent weeks, according to police officials.
In White Lake and Highland, however, police say reported coyote sightings have stayed the same.
"Coyotes are in the area, but we haven't had an increase in sightings," Lt. Adam Kline said. In fact, Kline said it's very likely that the large skinned and decapitated dog reported a few weeks ago was likely not a dog, but a coyote.
According to Tim Payne from the Wildlife Division of Michigan's Department of Natural Resources, an increased coyote presence in suburban areas does not necessarily signal a problem.
While coyotes often are associated with the wilderness of northern Michigan, coyotes can thrive in urban and suburban areas, Payne said. Because of an abundance of small rodents and, in warmer months, vegetables growing in gardens, coyotes often occupy the same spaces as humans.
The migration to Metro Detroit isn't necessarily coming from the north, either.
"We get coyotes moving from Ohio and Indiana to southern Michigan," Payne said. He said Metro Detroit started to see an increased presence by coyotes about 15 years ago, and that such increases often happen in cycles without any specific cause.
"It isn't new, but it might be new to people in that area," he said.
Payne chalked up the recent sightings to timing; Breeding season for coyotes runs from January through March.
While Payne said coyotes pose little risk to humans, small pets and livestock can be susceptible to coyote attacks.
If a coyote does pose a threat, though, Payne says Michigan's laws allow the animal to be killed. However, he says such problems can be rare.
"We want people to live with wildlife and enjoy coyotes," Payne said. "Most of the time they are not a problem."
If You Encounter a Coyote
To assist in minimizing a potential conflict with a coyote:
- Never approach or touch a coyote
- Never intentionally feed a coyote
- Eliminate all outside food sources, especially pet food
- Put garbage out the morning of pick-up
- Clear out wood and brush piles; they are a habitat for mice and may attract coyotes
- Do not allow pets to roam free when coyotes are present—consider keeping pets indoors or accompany them outside, especially at night
Because residents share the community with wild animals, a coyote sighting should not automatically be considered a cause for concern.
If you've had a coyote sighting in your area, tell us where in the comments below: