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Thursday

August 2014

21

Dousman concerned over coyote attacks

Pack of coyotes took down fawn during day in village recently

When the Village of Dousman held its Village Board Meeting on Feb. 11, a concerning agenda item was addressed. Not a raise in taxes, or a change in policy - it was coyotes - that residents are worried about.

In recent months the reports of coyotes from residents have increased with one recent report including a disturbing narrative according to Village President Jack Nissen.

"One report indicated that during the day, four to five coyotes had attacked and killed a fawn on the northern edge of the city," Nissen said. "Right in the middle of the day in the city."

This has prompted the village to take action, contact the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the area warden and discuss a possible solution to the increase of urban coyotes.

"We have noticed a population growth that needs to be addressed," Nissen said. "It came to our attention the fact that coyotes are in the village during the day. Most likely because it's also breeding season."

Waukesha-area wildlife biologist Tim Livotte said that while the DNR does not actively monitor or survey the population of coyotes, in the past 15 years the population has certainly grown and most likely has maxed out.

"We let the population balance itself out with its environment," Livotte said. "They populate to a certain extent and then disease such as mange or distemper controls the population."

Livotte said the DNR receives, in southeast Wisconsin alone, several calls per week related to coyote sightings and complaints. The person calling usually feels they or their animal is threatened.

"Most calls are about human or pet safety and the truth is there have been very few recorded cases of coyotes hurting humans," Livotte said. "However, they do routinely kill cats and dogs less than 15 pounds and can injure other animals."

Both Livotte and Nissen urge residents to take extra precaution with pets. They advise keeping dogs on leashes at all times and in a fenced-in yard if possible. Livotte said that the DNR always recommends cats remain indoors, but especially so if coyotes have been sighted in the neighborhood. Residents can also clean up garbage, spilled bird feed, and monitor compost piles - all places coyotes often get food.

"Right now, we just would like to bring this to residents' attention and we encourage them to contact the DNR to report and document sightings," Nissen said.

Residents who would like to take a more active approach, Livotte said there are a few things they can do if they are confident and educated on the situation.

In Wisconsin, no DNR permit is required to shoot a coyote if you are the land owner. Livotte quickly states that this law does not trump any city, town, or village ordinance regarding the use of firearms and residents should know what they can and cannot do before taking action.

Livotte also said that residents who feel a coyote is getting too comfortable being around humans, for example, constantly approaching closer to a home or in a yard, there are measure the homeowner can take as far as scaring the coyotes.

"Residents can actively engage in hazing a coyote if they feel comfortable and safe doing so," Livotte said. "That may involve whistles, shouting, using the garden hose; just generally scaring them so they are not comfortable around humans."

Livotte also said that while coyotes may look threatening and can harm our beloved pets, its important to remember they can be extremely beneficial.

"Coyotes help to reduce the population of rabbits, pests, mice and other small mammals that can do damage to gardens and property," Livotte said. "They are a very beneficial part of our ecosystem."

For now, Nissen continues to advise residents to take caution and be smart about pets being outdoors.

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