Michigan Backyard Discoveries: Welcome to Coyote Breeding Season
In August of 2021, my boyfriend and I moved into our new home in Jackson Michigan. It is set back in the woods and I guess it wasn't until I started paying attention just how much nature could be discovered there!
It's not that I don't get outside much, I just have always lived in pretty well-populated areas so I never got this much exposure to so many different critters. I figured I couldn't be the only person who didn't know these things either so I started a little "Michigan Backyard Discoveries" series.
Well, friends, today we add Michigan coyotes to the mix because I truly had no clue just how prevalent they were here in the Lower Peninsula.
Coyotes in Michigan
According to A-Z Animals, there are 19 types of coyote that roam North America and their classification mainly depends on the region they are found. For example, Creature Control says the western coyote is the one that is most common throughout the Midwest and found in Michigan.
Now, when we say "found in Michigan" we mean that they are found in every single county in Michigan and are moving closer and closer to more well-populated areas as development increases.
This information came as a surprise to me as I only have two "experiences" with coyotes. When I was a kid, my dad's car got its front end all dented up when he hit one once...which absolutely shocked me. More recently, a train was going by around 6:30 one night and outside we just heard this loud, crazy howling sound. I got scared and my boyfriend informed me it was coyotes...a whole lot of them.
It's not that I didn't know coyotes existed, it's more that I thought they weren't very common in Michigan and were more the types of creatures that hung out in the desert...
Michigan's Superior Predator
As it turns out, not only are coyotes common in Michigan, but they are so common they are actually the Lower Peninsula's number-one predator! In the U.P., per the University of Michigan, they "coexist" and share the title with the Gray Wolf, another wild canine causing concern (CLICK HERE for MLive coverage on them).
The City of Sterling Heights shares that they pretty much eat anything they can get. This means preying on other small animals, foraging for berries, etc. and, oh yeah, YOUR PETS.
While they are pretty afraid of humans (Sterling Heights says there are no reports of injuries to people) they can get used to us and that fear can be overcome if you regularly feed them...so don't do that.
Coyote Breeding Season in Michigan
The City of Sterling Heights and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) says the main breeding season for coyotes is mid-January through March. So yeah, basically right now.
You may hear some extra howling, notice them more, maybe see them (either dead or alive) in the road, etc. All of this is to say they will be out and about as well as in search of food more during this time. This also means if you aren't already keeping an extra eye on your smaller-sized pets due to the cold winter weather, you definitely should keep them from the prying eyes of hungry coyotes.
Also, if that's not all concerning enough, let us tell you there's such thing as COYWOLVES which are exactly what they sound like...coyotes crossed with wolves...though, the Detroit Free Press claims they are "misunderstood."
Tips on How to Deal With or Avoid Coyotes from the Michigan DNR
Michigan's DNR has some tips that are pretty simple and easy to follow to help you avoid any coyote-related mishaps and NOT become the first person in the state to report an injury from them.
Their tips include:
- NEVER try to feed or tame coyotes - "It is critical that they retain their natural fear of people," the DNR says.
- Avoid having outside food sources - keep garbage and pet food put away
- Keep an eye on small pets, keep them on a leash or accompany them outside.
- If you do see a coyote around, the DNR says you should scare it off with loud noises.
So basically, I now think I am and expert on coyotes and hope some of you are too. Though, one question still remains...is it pronounces "kai-yote" or "kai-yote-ee"?