By Christine Bryant
It’s been 100 years since the first coyote in Ohio was recorded.
A century later, Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park will celebrate this milestone with a special program that allows visitors to get an up close look at their habitat and learn why they’re a valuable member of the wild.
By 1919, wolves had been absent from Ohio for more than 50 years, so coyotes had found plenty of habitat to colonize, said Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park Naturalist Craig Biegler.
“Since then, they have spread to every county in the state, but nobody is sure exactly how many live in Ohio,” he said.
Although the sounds and sightings of coyotes are common, especially in more rural areas, Biegler says there are many misconceptions about these animals.
“For example, many people think that coyotes (like wolves) hunt in packs, but this is a major difference between the two canines,” he said. “Though they will share the same territory with close family members and exhibit a social structure, coyotes find food on their own, preferring to eat small animals like rabbits and rodents.”
Coyotes also provide valuable pest control, he said.
“A single coyote will eat around 10 small mammals a day,” Biegler said. “They are fascinating to observe and seem infinitely adaptable, thriving in deserts, forests, prairies and urban environments.”
At the program, naturalists will attempt to clear up some of these misconceptions, he said.
“For better or worse, coyotes are the last large predator that can be found throughout Ohio,” Biegler said.
The plan is to start at the nature center and allow attendees to see and touch a real coyote pelt and skull, Biegler said.
“After an introductory talk, we will head out onto the trail and walk for about half a mile. When we reach a good coyote habitat, we will play some of their calls and try to get a response,” he said.
The “100 Years of Coyotes” program will take place at 4:30 p.m. Nov. 16. Those interested in attending should meet at the Battelle Darby Creek Nature Center, 1415 Darby Creek Drive, Galloway. The event is free and does not require registration in advance. All ages are welcome.
“I hope that people will come away from the program with a new appreciation for coyotes and with the knowledge of how to manage interactions with them,” Biegler said.